The notion of a biological clock might be much more literal than anyone thought. According to a new study, your so-called biological clock can be sped up by...actual clocks. What?
Researchers from Florida State University conducted an experiment by asking women and men about their reproductive attitudes and preferences. They sought to find whether the sound and presence of a ticking clock would change the way participants think about their reproductive timing.
It turns out that by priming the idea of the passage of time, the small white kitchen clock actually did affect certain attitudes about reproduction. Women who grew up in lower socio-economic communities wanted to get married and have children sooner than women who grew up in more affluent communities. These women also lowered their expectations of a mate by de-emphasizing the priority that they put on social status and long-term earning potential.
One of the lead researchers summarizes that “the very subtle sound prime of a ticking clock changed the timing with which women sought to have children and the traits they sought in potential partners — both central aspects of women’s mating-related psychology."
The clock, however, had no effect on men. The researchers suggest that this is because men can produce children until much later in their life. Some researchers believe that reproductive timing is generally affected by a person’s childhood, their socioeconomic history, and subtle environmental factors. It still seems bizarre to me that an environmental factor as trivial as a kitchen clock might have an effect on such an important decision. Though, since more women are delaying childbirth, and birth rates in the U.S. specifically are dropping, perhaps we could benefit from being nudged towards getting pregnant? Then again, since our planet is headed towards overpopulation and all the scary stuff that goes along with it, maybe we should rethink this whole "propagating the species" thing to being with.
Image: Kiran Foster/Flickr