Human Nature

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 328–341 | Cite as

The Clock Is Ticking

The Sound of a Ticking Clock Speeds Up Women’s Attitudes on Reproductive Timing
  • Justin H. Moss
  • Jon K. Maner


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.


Life History Theory Reproductive timing Mate preferences Sex differences Priming Evolutionary psychology 



JHM would like to thank his advisor, JKM, for his guidance and assistance on this project and manuscript. He would also like to thank his family for their love and support as he continues his education. Finally, he would like to thank his research assistants for their hard work on this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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