Rebecca Steinert, M.S.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in psychology (May 2010)
Master of Science in accounting from the University of Texas at Dallas
McNair Project: Time Perception and the Presence of a Clock (2009)
Mentors: Fred Newton, Ph.D., & Eunhee Kim, Ph.D.
Time can be experienced in a number of different ways, ranging from a compressed (shortened) to a protracted (elongated) duration. Previous studies have shown that the rate of a clock can affect a person’s perception of time passage, and that heightened clock-time awareness increases stress, anger, and frustration in an individual. Both the transformation of time and increased concentration are major components of the construct known as flow, a psychological state in which a person is living in the moment and experiences maximal positive feelings. The present study examined the effects of a clock’s presence on an individual’s concentration, consciousness of time, perception of time, and physiological arousal. Physiological arousal was defined by increased heart rate and electrodermal activity and was measured using a biomonitoring system. Effects on an individual’s concentration, time perception, and time consciousness were assessed by a self-rated questionnaire using a 5-point Likert scale. Additionally, qualitative data were obtained using open-ended interview questions regarding individual experiences with time. Participants were undergraduate university students and were randomly assigned to either the clock or no-clock treatment. Each student participated in a 30-minute experimental session. Sessions took place in a biomonitoring lab and consisted of a 3-minute baseline, 2-minute mental math task, and a 5-minute post-task. During the mental math task, students were asked to count backwards by seven starting with 1000. Currently, the data are being analyzed for differences between the clock and no-clock group responses. Results from qualitative and quantitative data will be presented, followed by discussions on the findings.