, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 328-341
Date: 15 Aug 2014

The Clock Is Ticking

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Abstract

The “biological clock” serves as a powerful metaphor that reflects the constraints posed by female reproductive biology. The biological clock refers to the progression of time from puberty to menopause, marking the period during which women can conceive children. Findings from two experiments suggest that priming the passage of time through the sound of a ticking clock influenced various aspects of women’s (but not men’s) reproductive timing. Moreover, consistent with recent research from the domain of life history theory, those effects depended on women’s childhood socioeconomic status (SES). The subtle sound of a ticking clock led low (but not high) SES women to reduce the age at which they sought to get married and have their first child (Study 1), as well as the priority they placed on the social status and long-term earning potential of potential romantic partners (Study 2). Findings suggest that early developmental sensitization processes can interact with subtle environmental stimuli to affect reproductive timing during adulthood.