Does raising or lowering one's body temperature lead to different perceptions of time? And does this then control the virtual length of positive or negative emotions?

For example, individuals might drink cold beverages while watching a horror movie or sip hot tea while coding or making a plane model.

Do people drink different temperature beverages while doing certain things just because of their preference or unconsciously because it helps to get more of that certain feeling they're after?

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    $\begingroup$ From where do you get the notion that people in general drink cold beverages during a horror movie and warm drinks while coding? $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Oct 9, 2012 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ I can only agree those are some bad examples, I just hope it's clear enough what I'm after. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2012 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ I understand the question, but for it to be taken seriously it at least has to be framed as a real question and not just any possible hypothesis. Look for any references which lead you to asking this question. E.g. "Does the average intelligence of a bunny increase when drinking soup on a daily basis?" is also a 'clear' question. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Oct 10, 2012 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ I'd like to know about fever too, but I guess that really is a different question. As for this question, it just occurred to me that body temperature and time perception could be related. I do understand that many of my questions don't look serious, and I'm sorry I can't support them with studies and research. I'm already at that level of curiosity. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2012 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ @user1306322: Looks like my edits were too radical and did not get approved. I was wondering that myself. Anyway, for the first question, I'd recommend looking/googling for correlational studies between body temperature vs duration judgement tasks. As for the second question(emotions vs hot/cold beverages). i think this is even more conflated.So i'll just throw keywords like affect, arousal level, body temperature, and of course duration judgement. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2012 at 19:37

1 Answer 1


It seems that there is a research literature on the topic of the relationship between body temperature and time perception.

Weardon and Penon-Voak (1995) present a literature review of the topic which would be worth reading if this interests you. The following quotes their abstract:

Experiments investigating timing behaviour in humans under conditions where body temperature was raised or (much more rarely) lowered, dating from 1927 to 1993, were reviewed. These tested the hypothesis that humans possess a temperature-sensitive chemical or bio!g,gical internal clock. Most studies used conditions in which subjects produced or estimated durations less than 100 sec long, probably using chronometric counting, but other experimental paradigms were sometimes employed. Data from each study were expressed in a uniform fashion, as plots of changes in the rate of subjective time (estimated from changes in timing behaviour) against changes in body temperature. In almost all cases, rate of subjective time increased when body temperature increased above normal, and decreased when body temperature was lowered below normal, although observations of the latter type were rare. The data also suggested a parametric effect of body temperature, with higher temperatures generally producing faster subjective time. Some possible mechanisms for the effects obtained were discussed, with the most promising explanation probably being that the temperature manipulation produces changes in arousal.

Aschoff  (1998) also summarises some of this literature and highlights the important distinction between time frames of time perception:

From the point of view of a chronobiologist, human time perception can be divided into 2 distinct classes that differ in their interaction with the circadian system: short time intervals in the range of seconds (up to about 2 min) ... [and]... long time intervals, such as 1 h...  The production of short intervals shows a negative correlation with body temperature and a positive correlation with the intensity of illumination, while the 1-h intervals are independent of both these variables. For the short time intervals, the negative correlation with body temperature has often been documented (Aschoff and Daan, 1997; Francois, 1927; Hancock, 1993; Hoagland, 1933; Pfaff, 1968; Wearden and Penton-Voak, 1995), and 2 publications give strong evidence for a positive correlation with light intensity (Aschoff and Daan, 1997; Pöppel and Giedke, 1970). With regard to the 1-h intervals, an independence of light intensity is well supported (Aschoff and Daan, 1997).

Hancock (1993) summarised the literature and discussed the proposed mechanism:

The general notion of a temperature influence on time perception may be traced to Pieron (1923,1945)[1] who suggested that "if the speed of organic processes are modified, by variation and temperature for instance, mental time will increase or decrease proportionally." It was Pieron's student Francois (1927 a, b), however, who conducted the original empirical evaluations of the proposition. Yet, it is Hoagland who is associated most frequently with this general effect, mainly because of his postulate of a chemical clock to control estimates of duration. Using both his own data and those previously collected by Francois, Hoagland (1933) proposed that estimates of duration were directly dependent on internal body temperature. He described this relationship through the Van't Hoff-Arrhenius equation, which describes the speed of a chemical reaction in relationship to its temperature in degrees Kelvin. In observing that the collective data provided a unitary slope value within this equation, Hoagland (1933) concluded that our judgments of time depend upon "an underlying chemical master reaction, implying an irreversible chemical mechanism controlling the consciousness of duration."


  • Aschoff J (1985) On the perception of time during prolonged temporal isolation. Human Neurobiol 4:41-52.
  • Aschoff J and Daan S (1997) Human time perception in temporal isolation: Effects of illumination intensity. Chronobiol Internat 14:585-596.
  • Aschoff, J. (1998). Human perception of short and long time intervals: its correlation with body temperature and the duration of wake time. Journal of biological rhythms, 13, 437-442.
  • Francois, M. (1927a). Contribution a l'etude du sens du temps. La temperature inteme comme facteur de variation de l'appreciation subjective des durees. Annee Psychologie, 28,186-204.
  • Francois, M. (1927b). Influence de la temperature inteme sur notre appreciation du temps. C. R. Soc Biology, 108, 201-203.
  • Hancock, P.A. (1993). Body temperature influence on time perception. The Journal of general psychology, 120, 197-216. PDF
  • Hoagland, H. (1933). The physiological control of judgments of duration: Evidence of a chemical clock. Journal of General Psychology, 9, 267-287.
  • Pieron, H. (1923). Les problemes psychophysiologiques de la perception du temps. Annee Psychologie, 24, 1-25.
  • Pieron, H. (1945). The sensations: Their functions, processes and mechanisms. London: Muller.
  • Pfaff D (1968) Effects of temperature and time of day on time judgments. J Experimental Psychol 76:419-422.
  • Pöppel E and Giedke H (1970) Diurnal variation of time perception. Psychol Forschg 34:182-198.
  • Wearden JH and Penton-Voak IS (1995) Feeling the heat: Body temperature and the rate of subjective time, revis- ited. Quart J Exper Psychol 488:129-141

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