Beauty bends time

A study by Joana Arantes et al. suggests that being with an attractive date can speed up time for men and slow down time for women. The connection between physical attractiveness and temporal perception was investigated in a heterosexual population using the speed dating paradigm.

Participants recruited online (N = 37) rated their dates (prior to each session and shortly after) on attractiveness. They were asked to estimate how long each speed dating session lasted and how much attraction they felt toward the potential partner (on a 10-point scale). A total of 173 speed dates were analysed.

The researchers found that participants as a whole were able to estimate time somewhat, although they tended to estimate the duration of the date as being slightly shorter than it was in reality. Females estimated the session to be longer the more attractive they found their date and for men, sessions seemed shorter than they actually were when with a woman they found attractive.

One reason for the sex-difference, the authors opined, could be that men are disproportionately focused on the physical attributes of their potential partners while women focus equally or more on other characteristics that may have a higher value, such as economic prospects (a robust finding in psychology). Evaluating the social and economic stability of a prospective long-term mate may thus need more cognitive resources, allocation of which increases perceived time.

The authors also cite research that has shown that "when women perceive the partner as attractive, they tend to be more motivated to make a good impression on the partner and pay more attention to the things they say that might influence this impression” further driving up allocated cognitive resources.

The finding suggests that men on the other hand, quite content with the visual cues, are having more fun around attractive dates. And we all know time flies when we are having fun.

Read more about the study here.