New research suggests slow-motion replays can alter a person's perception of speed and, in turn, a person's perception of a player's intent. This year, Football Association refs and officials will review footage to determine whether a player was guilty of "diving." Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
July 28 (UPI) -- New research suggests a referee's perception of speed can be easily manipulated or thrown off kilter.
When vision science researchers at the University of Lincoln, in England, had study participants watch slow-motion video clips, the viewers had to have clips played-back in real time sped up to appear "normal."
Scientists measured the opposite effect when viewers watched sped-up clips, suggesting perception of speed is influenced by prior experience.
Researchers found viewers of European football game and auto race footage, either artificially sped-up and slowed-down, began to absorb the visuals as normal -- perceiving the pace as unaltered.
The brain is constantly adjusting to changes in visual stimulation, adapting to new conditions. The adjustment isn't immediate, however.
The phenomenon can prove dangerous on roadways. A driver coming off a highway exit onto a smaller road with slower speed limit may perceive faster speeds as normal, encouraging the driver to travel faster than the posted speed limit.
Faulty perceptions of speed could have a variety of social consequences, researchers argue.
"The speed at which people move -- their gestures or walking pace -- carries important social cues about the meaning and intent behind their actions or their emotional state and temperament," George Mather, a professor of vision science at Lincoln, said in a news release. "Eyebrows, for instance, can say a great deal. A rapid flick is a common form of greeting, while a slow rise and fall can indicate surprise or fear, and the speed at which a person walks is slower when that person is feeling sad rather than happy."
The new research -- detailed this week in the journal Scientific Reports -- may also be relevant to referees working for England's Football Association. This year, the FA will review some fouls to determine whether a player simulated a foul in order to deceive the ref.
"If these reviews involve repeated viewing of slow-motion replays, the findings may well be affected due to the 'adaptation effect' we reported," Mather said.