Does time fly when you’re reading about sex?

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Does time fly or stand still when one is reading highly arousing words? A temporal bisection task was used to test the effects of sexual taboo words on time perception. Forty participants judged the duration of sexual taboo, high-arousal negative, high-arousal positive, low-arousal negative, low-arousal positive, and category-related neutral words. The results support the hypothesis that sexual taboo stimuli receive more attention and reduce the perceived time that has passed (“time flies”)—the duration of high sexual taboo words was underestimated for taboo-word stimuli relative to all other word types. The findings are discussed in the context of internal clock theories of time perception.

Source: “Time flies when we read taboo words” from (2010) Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 563-568.

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