Body Temperature Influences on Time Perception

Hancock, P.A. (1993). Body temperature influences on time perception. Journal of General Psychology, 120(3), 197-216.

The chemical clock hypothesis implies a causal link between body temperature and the perception of duration. A strict interpretation of this construct requires a common slope value in an Arrhenius plot that relates time to temperature for every individual tested. Previous studies testing this proposition have confirmed a general relationship for data summed across multiple subjects. However, the same studies raise doubts as to whether this relationship holds for each and every individual tested. Unfortunately, these investigations have been limited by methodological constraints, thus, one could argue that the strong isomorphism intrinsic to the chemical clock hypothesis has yet to be fairly tested. In the present experiment, I sought to distinguish the effects of selective head temperature changes on the estimation of duration. Nonlinear decreases in estimated duration were observed with ascending deep auditory canal temperature. These findings support the contention of a thermally stable region of temporal perception bounded by conditions in which temporal estimates directly depend on body temperature. In contradicting physiological adequacy as an explanatory construct, the present results suggest a direct relationship between time perception and the homeothermic platform. I compare these results with earlier findings concerning the chemical clock concept and examine respective discrepancies as a basis for a fuller understanding of a temporal phenomenon that is frequently referred to as me internal clock.

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