That Moment Felt Like Forever: Stress Effects on Time Perception in Males

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Timing & Time Perception


The purpose of this research was to identify if inducing acute stress in males could influence their verbal estimate of a duration of time perception. Thirty-four males between the ages of 18 and 22 years old were recruited to participate by prospectively judging intervals of time at baseline and after a water task. Using an experimental design, participants were randomly assigned to either the stressor water task of the Socially-Evaluative Cold Pressor Task (SECPT; n = 16) or the control water task of the Warm Water Task (WWT; n = 18). Salivary cortisol was collected at baseline and after the assigned water task to measure changes in physiological stress, while positive and negative affect were assessed to measured changes in subjective emotion. The stressor task was effective at increasing salivary cortisol and negative affect while experiencing the SECPT, but not at other time points. The group exposed to the stressor task experienced an overestimation of time when compared to the control group. A path analysis concluded that the grouping for stressor/control task was the only significant contributing factor in the variability of time perception accuracy when mediating paths for cortisol, positive affect, and negative affect. Information gained from this research is basic and may give insights into stress’s impact on the perception of time.



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