Videos look faster as children grow up: Sense of speed and impulsivity throughout primary school

Eleonora Zuliani, Marcella Caputi, Simona Scaini, Claudio de'Sperati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has documented systematic biases when adult observers judge the original speed of real-life video clips. What does the unfolding of events in videos—an increasingly pervasive “substitute reality”—look like as children grow up? The current study investigated the sense of speed during childhood and the relation with a number of performance and personality indexes. A group of 142 children aged 6–10 years adjusted the speed of video clips representing various scenes until reaching the apparent right speed. We found a tendency to underestimate speed; on average, videos played at their original speed were considered to be too slow. This tendency was larger in younger children and decreased with age (−3.16%/year). Uncertainty in judging video speed also decreased over the same age period (−10.79%/year). Children then performed a simple visuomotor task requiring response control, which revealed high accuracy and, in older children, faster responses. Children were also assessed for impulsivity/inattention and visuomotor habits through parents’ questionnaires. When all variables were considered together, age and video game playing stood out as the only significant predictors of speed biases, both associated with an increase in apparent video speed. Thus, this study provides evidence of a change in the sense of speed during the primary school period, possibly involving the progressive overriding of a slow motion prior and/or the protracted calibration of perceptual mechanisms for speed constancy. The sense of speed, however, did not seem to be influenced by impulsivity traits in the population considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-211
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Children
  • Impulsivity
  • Intuitive physics
  • Response control
  • Speed
  • Videos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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