In the study, which appears in this month's Human Nature, 59 men and women (ages 18 to 21) were given a survey about the age at which they'd want to start having children. In the second experiment, 74 men and women (ages 18 to 32) were surveyed about the characteristics they look for in potential partners and the extent to which they would be flexible on those characteristics in order to start a family sooner.
But, half of these surveys were given in the presence of a small kitchen clock, mercilessly ticking away. Female participants in the presence of the great and powerful clock who also reported being from a less-wealthy neighborhood or a lower-income family wanted to have kids at a younger age. They also placed less importance on a potential partner's resources (e.g. long-term income possibilities). Women who had wealthier childhoods placed significantly more importance on their partners' social status when listening to the ticking. But, the women's own current finances had no effect on either their preferred traits in a co-parent or their chosen time for kids.
What else reminds women that their baby-makin' time is a-tickin'? Simply learning about the complicated realities of in vitro fertilization. In one study, university students in Queensland, Australia revised their ideal ages for having their first and last child after hearing about IVF. Both ages were significantly lower for those who'd gotten the info.
As crazy as it sounds, there's actually a long history of studies like this. In one particularly hilarious example, participants who had been primed with elderly-related words like "bingo" and "Florida" walked significantly more slowly down a hallway than those who got neutral words. Luckily, priming effects are usually pretty short-lived. Still, we'll be counting our digital-age blessings and steering clear of those pesky analog clocks and their reproductive agendas.