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Lab Report - Time Perception In An Altered State Of Consciousness

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Abstract

This study explored the question of whether people who say they are skilled at relaxation report a deeper level of relaxation than people who say they are not so skilled. Undergraduate psychology students (37 males and 127 females, mean age 20 years) followed one of three different sets of instructions that detailed how they were to relax, and after doing so for a period of time, completed a survey where they rated on a ten point scale how relaxed they felt and where they stated whether or not they were skilled at relaxation. The hypothesis that were was no difference in the mean estimate of relaxation reported by those who are skilled at relaxation and those who are not was unsupported, as a significant difference was found. It was concluded that those who are skilled at relaxation would report a higher level of relaxation and those who were not skilled at relaxation would report a lower level of relaxation.

The perception of time during an altered state of consciousness

This study explored how time was perceived during a relaxed state; more specifically, it investigated whether people who said they were skilled at relaxation reported a deeper level of relaxation than people who said they were not so skilled. Relaxation can be viewed as an altered state of consciousness as it is a state that is dramatically different from ordinary responsiveness and awareness. The standard state of consciousness is defined as being alert, awake and responsive to the environment and ones own mental activities (Lefton and Brannon, 2006).

This study has been adapted from Grivas & Lawrie (1991), who in turn adapted it from Volckmann.& Volckmann (1938). They too looked at the effect that an altered state of consciousness had on time perception, but did not delve into the question of whether those who were skilled at relaxation were more adept at achieving it. Buetown (2004) also investigated time perception and found that time seemed to pass slowly when an individual was highly conscious of themselves and their environment, whilst time speed up when an individual was in a more relaxed state when the individual's consciousness of the situation and of themselves is low.

Vaitl et al. (2005) believed that relaxation was a psychologically induced state which reduced autonomic and central arousal, but again did not delve any further to how the participants who were skilled at relaxation and those who were not experienced it. Saniga (1988) discussed the different states of mind and consciousness, whilst Graf & Grondin (2006) looked at time perception not in relation to relaxation, but to time-based prospective memory.

Although there has been no evident previous research on how skilled and unskilled practitioners of relaxation experience relaxation, this study can extend on and expand the 'common-sense' belief that those who are skilled at relaxation would be better at achieving it and would report a deeper level of relaxation than those who are not skilled.

The aim of the present study is therefore to investigate whether or not there is a difference in the reported level of relaxation by those who are skilled at relaxing and those who are not. It is hypothesized that there is a difference in the mean estimate in personal relaxation level between those who are skilled relaxation practitioners and those who are unskilled relaxation practitioners.

Method

Participants

The participants were undergraduate students studying introductory at --- University in --- and in ---. There were 174 participants in total (M = 20 years, R = 16 - 45 years), 37 men and 137 women, who were participating as it was a required task in the course.

Each class was randomly allocated to a group and a set of instructions. There were 57 participants in the control condition, whilst there were 63 in the experimental 1 condition (which involved meditative relaxation) and there were 54 participants in the experimental 2 condition (which involved doodling). Each group had a varied number of males and females in it.

Design

The dependant variable was perception of time, whilst the independent variable was the method of relaxation.

The designs for the experiment are the following;

1. Between groups experimental design (v. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

2. Correlation design (v. 1, 2 and 4)

3. Qualitative survey ( v. 6)

The variables in this

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