It's the cliche of hundreds of pop songs, but New Zealand researchers say there's evidence that time does stand still when you find love -- or at least it seems to.
University of Canterbury psychology expert Dr Joana Arantes said Monday that the perception of time slowing down when someone sees an attractive potential mate for the first time could have evolved as a reproductive mechanism.
The researchers tested women by showing them photos of attractive and unattractive males and females that were briefly presented on a computer and had to estimate their duration by pressing a mouse button.
"We found that the estimated durations of attractive males were longer than for unattractive males, whereas there was no difference in the estimated durations of attractive and unattractive females. This result supported our prediction that the timing system is sensitive to reproductive fitness," Arantes said in a statement.
The initial idea for the research came from the popular belief that time seems to slow down or even stop when falling in love at first sight as depicted in films such as the Tim Burton movie "Big Fish" and in Taylor Swift's song "Time Slows Down Whenever You're Around."
"We know from previous research that perceived time can slow down in real-life situations that are threatening, such as car crashes, bungee jumping, or to take a less extreme example that's been studied in the laboratory, viewing photos of snakes," she said.
"From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense that similar changes in time perception would occur in situations related to reproductive fitness, such as unexpectedly seeing an attractive potential mate for the first time."