Psychological Effects of Thought Acceleration

Six experiments found that manipulations that increase thought speed also yield positive affect. These experiments varied in both the methods used for accelerating thought (i.e., instructions to brainstorm freely, exposure to multiple ideas, encouragement to plagiarize others’ ideas, performance of easy cognitive tasks, narration of a silent video in fast-forward, and experimentally controlled reading speed) and the contents of the thoughts that were induced (from thoughts about money-making schemes to thoughts of five-letter words). The results suggested that effects of thought speed on mood are partially rooted in the subjective experience of thought speed. The results also suggested that these effects can be attributed to the joy-enhancing effects of fast thinking (rather than only to the joy-killing effects of slow thinking). This work is inspired by observations of a link between “racing thoughts” and euphoria in cases of clinical mania, and potential implications of that observed link are discussed.
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