Background and aims: Pathological buying (PB) is often assumed to be related to deficits in impulse control. Distortions in judging elapsed time are one component of behavioral impulsivity. This study was set out to examine the hypothesis that PB propensity is associated with distorted time perception, such that time is perceived to pass more slowly.
Methods: The study is based on a convenience sample of 78 adults. Symptom severity of PB and related problems/disorders (substance use, borderline, depression, mania, and obsessive-compulsive disorder) as well as four dimensions of trait impulsivity were assessed. A time-production task was employed that required participants to produce prespecified time intervals ranging from 1 to 60 s.
Results: PB propensity was associated with the belief that time elapses more slowly, even when controlling for symptoms of related disorders and general trait impulsivity. Neither trait impulsivity nor symptoms of related disorders were predictive of distortions in judging elapsed time.
Discussion and conclusion: These results suggest that PB propensity is related with non-specific, general deficits in judging elapsed time as a specific component of behavioral impulsivity.
Keywords: behavioral impulsivity; compulsive buying; pathological buying; time perception.