Factors Affecting Human Time Perception: Do Feelings of Rejection Increase the Rate of Subjective Timing?

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  • 1 College of Healthcare Science, School of Psychology, James Cook University, Singapore

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Research in the area of human sub-second-to-second timing has uncovered that emotional stimuli can influence our subjective timing, with much research highlighting that stimuli portraying high arousal negative emotions (for example, images of angry faces) cause a subjective lengthening effect, based on a potential fight or flight response. Further research has shown that in order for this effect to occur, the individual needs to be able to emulate the emotion that they have seen, suggesting that responses differ dependant on whether the individual is timing an emotional stimulus, or the individual is emotional while timing a neutral stimulus. Research in the area of social psychology has previously highlighted a link between social exclusion (peer rejection) and time distortion at the minute-to-multiple-minute range, with social exclusion causing a subjective lengthening effect of duration, supposedly due to cognitive deconstruction and emotional numbing. The current study aimed to investigate this further by examining the impact of peer rejection on sub-second-to-second timing. Participants completed a bisection task and were subsequently made to feel either rejected, or accepted by their peers. After this intervention stage, they again completed the bisection task. It was hypothesised that those who were rejected would experience subjective lengthening of duration, whereas those who were accepted would experience subjective shortening of duration. These hypotheses were supported. Implications and limitations of the study are also discussed.

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