Feb 182013
 
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Well, the answer to this question seems to be pretty obvious. Off course they do! Mine tells me when to get up in the morning, when to go to work, and so on. until it tells me to go to bed again. But is there maybe a more subtle way they influence our decisions.

Clockwise and counter clockwise – there is no argument about which way is which. That is because all clocks (with some notable historical exceptions like the astronomical clock in the M?nster Cathedral) describe a right-handed circle. The reason for this is that the clock’s predecessor, the sundial, was invented in the northern hemisphere, where the shadow on the sundial moves in a semi-circle from left to right. A study now suggests that the motion of the hands of a watch might influence us more than we thought. The authors hypothesized, that clockwise motion is associated with the future, making a person more open to new experiences, while counter clockwise movement is associated with the past leading to more conservative choices. Further, clockwise movement is often associated with progression towards a tools purpose, like starting a car or turning up the volume.In two experiments participants were manually performing rotational movements. The participants of the clockwise group described new symbols as more pleasant and described themselves as more open. Similar results were also observed when participants only watched a rotating square. Even when people, who thought they were participating in a different experiment, were asked to choose sweets as a reward, they preferred more (un)usual flavors depending on which way they could rotate the plate on which the sweets were served. It is noteworthy that this effect did not depend on the handedness of the participants.

The question remains: Is the openness to new things really due to our perception of clockwise movements bringing us to the future? Or is it something more primal build into our brains and animals will behave in a similar manner? And finally, once all clocks are digital, will they give us our free will back?

 

David Huesmann

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