The effects of valence and arousal on time perception in individuals with social anxiety

Frontiers in Psychology 6:144471 (2015)
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Time distortion in individuals with social anxiety has been defined as the seemingly slower passage of time in social situations and is related to both arousal and valence. Consequently, adaptive behavior is disrupted and interpersonal situations avoided. We explored the effects of valence and arousal on time distortion in individuals with social anxiety. Participants were assigned to two groups, High Anxiety (HA) and Low Anxiety (LA), presented with four types of facial expression stimuli (positive-high arousal, positive-low arousal, negative-high arousal, and negative-low arousal), and asked to estimate the duration of stimulus presentation. Results indicated that, relative to other stimuli, the HA and LA groups perceived longer presentation for high-arousal negative and low-arousal positive stimuli, respectively. These findings suggest that anxious individuals’ time distortion was more severe in situations that evoked high arousal and involved negative emotion.



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J. H. Lee
University of California, Berkeley