Having the Time of Our Lives? How Threat Appraisal is Influenced by the Subjective Nature of Time
Sass, Rachelle Alexandra Marie
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Temporal construal is the cognitive process that determines an event’s location in time and the experience of its distance from the present. The greater the temporal distance, the more likely events are represented in abstract versus concrete features. This experiment examined temporal construal’s effect on threat appraisal of a stressful medical procedure, where the manipulation involved university students imagining the procedure in concrete or abstract terms. The near-future group was expected to interpret the procedure as nearer and more threatening than the distant-future group on questionnaires. An Implicit Association Test (IAT) measured response latencies during categorization of stimuli into paired concepts (threat and time). A significant interaction was found between a personality trait and temporal construal on the perceived distance of the procedure, t(189) = 2.14, p = .03. IAT results found that participants were faster at categorizing stimuli into congruent versus incongruent pairs, t(179) = 4.05, p < .001.