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Anxiety makes time pass quicker while fear has no effect

Sarigiannidis, I; Grillon, C; Ernst, M; Roiser, JP; Robinson, OJ; (2020) Anxiety makes time pass quicker while fear has no effect. Cognition , 197 , Article 104116. 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104116. Green open access

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Abstract

People often say that during unpleasant events, e.g. traumatic incidents such as car accidents, time slows down (i.e. time is overestimated). However aversive events can elicit at least two dissociable subtypes of reactions: fear (transient and relating to an imminent event) and anxiety (diffuse and relating to an unpredictable event). We hypothesised that anxiety might have an opposite effect on time perception compared to fear. To test this we combined a robust anxiety manipulation (threat-of-shock) with a widely used timing task in which participants judged whether the duration of a stimulus was long or short. In line with our hypothesis, across three experiments (with varying stimulus timings and shock levels), participants significantly underestimated time under inducted anxiety, as indicated by a rightward shift of the psychophysical function (meta-analytic effect size: d = 0.68, 95% confidence interval: 0.42-0.94). In two further studies, we were unable to replicate previous findings that fear leads to time overestimation, after adapting our temporal cognition task, which suggests a dissociation between fear and anxiety on how they affect time perception. Our results suggest that experimentally inducing anxiety leads to underestimating the duration of temporal intervals, which might be a starting point in explaining different subjective experiences of disorders related to fear (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder) and anxiety (e.g. generalised anxiety disorder).

Type: Article
Title: Anxiety makes time pass quicker while fear has no effect
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104116
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104116
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/)
Keywords: Anxiety, Emotion, Fear, Threat-of-shock, Time perception
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10089642
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