Skip to main content

“Eigentempo”: A large-scale online study investigating factors affecting the spontaneous motor tempo

“Eigentempo”: A large-scale online study investigating factors affecting the spontaneous motor tempo

Presenter Name:David Hammerschmidt

School/Affiliation:University of Hamburg

Co-Authors:Klaus Frieler, Clemens Wöllner


The spontaneous motor tempo (SMT) describes the pace of regular and repeated movements such as hand clapping. It is typically measured by letting people tap at a pace that feels most natural and comfortable to them. A number of factors have been suggested to influence the SMT, such as age and musical experience (McAuley et al., 2006; Drake et al., 2000). This study aimed at investigating the effects of such factors in a combined and out-of-the-lab context by implementing the finger-tapping paradigm in an online experiment using a self-developed web application (N = 3,576).

Due to statistical multimodality in the distribution of participants’ mean inter-tap intervals, a Gaussian mixture model was applied which divided participants into six clusters, ranging from Very Fast (M = 265 ms, SD = 74) to Very Slow (M = 1,757 ms, SD = 166). The clusters differed in terms of age (p < .001), suggesting that older participants had a slower SMT, and musical experience (p < .001), showing that musically less experienced participants were in the Slow cluster (M = 1314 ms, SD = 106). Furthermore, the time of the day showed an effect on SMT (p < .001), indicating that the earlier the time of the day, the slower the SMT.

Results suggest a slowing-with-age effect on the SMT and large fluctuations over the day. Musical inexperienced participants preferred a slower SMT on average. With a large international sample, these results provide new and more detailed insights into the effects of factors that influence the SMT.

Poster PDFPoster PDF Meeting LinkMeeting Link