Emotion Effects on Timing: Attention versus Pacemaker Accounts

Ming Ann Lui, Trevor B. Penney, Annett Schirmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Emotions change our perception of time. In the past, this has been attributed primarily to emotions speeding up an “internal clock” thereby increasing subjective time estimates. Here we probed this account using an S1/S2 temporal discrimination paradigm. Participants were presented with a stimulus (S1) followed by a brief delay and then a second stimulus (S2) and indicated whether S2 was shorter or longer in duration than S1. We manipulated participants' emotions by presenting a task-irrelevant picture following S1 and preceding S2. Participants were more likely to judge S2 as shorter than S1 when the intervening picture was emotional as compared to neutral. This effect held independent of S1 and S2 modality (Visual: Exps. 1, 2, & 3; Auditory: Exp. 4) and intervening picture valence (Negative: Exps. 1, 2 & 4; Positive: Exp. 3). Moreover, it was replicated in a temporal reproduction paradigm (Exp. 5) where a timing stimulus was preceded by an emotional or neutral picture and participants were asked to reproduce the duration of the timing stimulus. Taken together, these findings indicate that emotional experiences may decrease temporal estimates and thus raise questions about the suitability of internal clock speed explanations of emotion effects on timing. Moreover, they highlight attentional mechanisms as a viable alternative.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21829
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2011

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