When the Mind Races: Effects of Thought Speed on Feeling and Action

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Thought speed can be altered via controlled exposure to stimuli such as temporally paced text. Experiments show that thinking quickly induces positive mood and that the effect cannot be attributed to alterations of thought content or fluency. The effect is obtained across varied manipulations, including ones that alter the pace of thought involved in reading, problem solving, and visual comprehension. The experience of thinking fast signals a basic imperative for action and triggers a set of responses that mobilize the individual to act. These responses include not only heightened positive affect but also changes in behavior (i.e., increased risk taking), self-perception (i.e., increased self-confidence), and problem solving (i.e., increased creative insight). Implications of these thought-speed effects are discussed with respect to both everyday experiences that induce fast thinking and clinical psychiatric conditions (e.g., depression and mania) that are characterized by thought-speed abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-288
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


  • cognitive processing
  • mania
  • mood
  • risk taking
  • thought speed


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