The world wide wait: Exploring physiological and behavioral effects of download speed

S. Shyam Sundar, Carson B. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


When a Web site image takes a long time to load onto our computer screens, the anticipation during the wait may be physiologically arousing and, in turn, have consequences for our subsequent browsing activity. This study explores such a possibility by investigating the excitatory and behavioral effects of download speed in Web-based online communication. Results from a between-participants experiment indicate that individuals exposed to a slow-loading image experience a significantly higher rise in their skin conductance levels compared to those exposed to a fast-loading version of the same image. Moreover, excitation transfer of residual arousal from a slow-loading image serves to intensify physiological as well as behavioral responses to subsequent online stimuli. Two follow-up experiments further clarify the mediating role of arousal in influencing browsing behavior and highlight the importance of considering image/content arousability while inferring the effects of download speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-206
Number of pages34
JournalMedia Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology


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