Anticipation of sexually arousing visual event leads to overestimation of elapsed time

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Available only for arXiv papers.


Harjunen, V. J.; Spape, M.; Ravaja, N.


Subjective estimates of duration are affected by emotional expectations about the future. For example, temporal intervals preceding a threatening event such as an electric shock are estimated as longer than intervals preceding a non-threatening event. However, it has not been unequivocally shown that such temporal overestimation occurs also when anticipating a similarly arousing but appealing event. In this study, we examined how anticipation of visual erotic material influenced perceived duration. Participants did a temporal bisection task, where they estimated durations of visual cues relative to previously learned short and long standard durations. The colour of the to-be-timed visual cue signalled either a chance of seeing a preferred erotic picture at the end of the interval or certainty of seeing a neutral grey bar instead. The results showed that anticipating an appealing event increased the likelihood of estimating the cue duration as long as compared to the anticipation of a grey bar. Further analyses showed that this temporal overestimation effect was stronger for those who rated the anticipated erotic pictures as more sexually arousing. The results thus indicate that anticipation of appealing events has a similar dilating effect on perceived duration as does the anticipation of aversive events.

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