ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (7): 747-758.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00747

• Reports of Empirical Studies •     Next Articles

How state anxiety influences time perception: Moderated mediating effect of cognitive appraisal and attentional bias

LIU Jingyuan,LI Hong()   

  1. (Department of Psychology, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China)(Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen 518055, China)
  • Received:2018-10-23 Published:2019-07-25 Online:2019-05-22
  • Contact: Hong LI


Anxiety is associated with high levels of arousal. Both theoretical and empirical work have determined that when an individual experiences anxiety, he/she shows attentional bias toward negative stimuli. High arousal and negative attentional bias, as the two key characteristics of anxiety, are associated with a series of subjective feelings and experiences of individuals with state anxiety, among which time perception is significant. However, how this process operates remains an open question. In this article, we investigate how state anxious individuals perceive time, especially the roles of attention bias and cognitive appraisal in this process.
Sixty college students participated in the study and were randomly assigned to a high state anxiety group (n = 30, completed a procedure of anxious state induction) and a low state anxiety group (n = 30, completed a procedure of calm state induction). Then, a 2 (high state anxiety group vs. low state anxiety group) × 2 (negative stimuli vs. neutral stimuli) × 3 (2000 ms vs. 4000 ms vs. 8000 ms) mixed-design experiment was conducted with the attentional bias as the mediator, the cognitive appraisal as the moderator and the time perception as the dependent variable. State anxiety was manipulated by an induction process, time perception was measured by the time reproduction task, attentional bias was measured by the dot-probe task and cognitive appraisal was assessed by the visual analogue mood scales.
The results showed that (1) State anxiety had an effect on time perception, namely, individuals with high state anxiety overestimated the 2-second interval of the negative stimuli. (2) Attentional bias played a partial mediating role in the relationship between state anxiety and time perception of 2000 ms. (3) Cognitive appraisal moderated the mediation effect of attentional bias on the influence of state anxiety on time perception of 2000 ms. Specifically, when the score of cognitive appraisal was high, attentional bias played a mediating role in the influence of state anxiety on time perception, while when the score of cognitive appraisal was low, attentional bias did not play a mediating role in the influence of state anxiety on time perception.
Therefore, the effect of state anxiety on college students’ time perception was a moderated mediating effect. The moderated mediating model significantly revealed the effect mechanism of state anxiety on college students’ time perception, which can contribute to a better understanding of how individuals in an anxious state perceive time. Furthermore, it suggests that the adjustment of cognitive appraisal or attentional bias is an important way to alleviate the time distortion of anxious individuals.

Key words: state anxiety, time perception, attentional bias, cognitive appraisal

CLC Number: