Effects of Neutral and Fearful Mood on Duration Estimation of Neutral and Fearful Face Stimuli

in Timing & Time Perception
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Previous research showed that fearful faces produce longer temporal estimates than neutral faces. This study probed whether fearful mood enhances this effect. In two experiments, participants viewed neutral and threatening film excerpts and subsequently evaluated the duration of neutral and fearful faces in a bisection task. In Experiment 1, where neutral mood was induced before fearful mood, skin conductance levels (SCLs) and subjective emotion ratings indicated successful mood induction. Compared to neutral mood, fearful mood lengthened subjective duration estimates irrespective of stimulus quality. Additionally, stimuli of fearful faces were temporally overestimated relative to neutral faces; but only in neutral, not in fearful mood. In Experiment 2, where fearful mood was induced before neutral mood, subjective emotion ratings, but not SCLs, indicated successful mood induction. Moreover, neither mood nor facial expressions influenced duration estimation. Taken together, the results show that fearful mood may accelerate an internal pacemaker but does not enhance temporal perception differences between fearful and neutral faces. Additionally, this study highlights the importance of dissociating stimulus, state, and trait emotionality for our understanding of emotional influences on temporal perception.

Effects of Neutral and Fearful Mood on Duration Estimation of Neutral and Fearful Face Stimuli

in Timing & Time Perception

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Figures

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    Experiment 1 procedure. Except for the STAI, all tasks were presented on a computer screen. The dark arrows mark critical periods for the measurement of skin conductance levels. SAM: Self Assessment Manikin. STAI: State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.

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    Fit of a logistic function to the observed relation between ‘long’ ratings and real stimulus durations across all participants for the four mood × facial expression conditions in Experiment 1. Average responses in each condition are represented by black rectangles. Error bars refer to the between-subject standard error. The gray dashed curve shows the average fit, the vertical gray line indicates the objective BP at 1000 ms and the vertical black line indicates the mean subjective BP.

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    Interaction of induced mood and facial expression in Experiment 1. Mean BP values in milliseconds are presented for each of the four experimental conditions. Error bars correspond to the between-subject standard errors.

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