A summary of research on the perception of time.

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


Proof that the perception of time doesn’t work how you think it does, nor is it under your control.


How to make time go faster blog,

A selection of research displaying several factors effect the perception of time.

Introduction, leeds, Einstien once said “ an hour with a fit girl feels like a second but the pain of stumping you toe lasts for ages.

With the help of some research papers, I want to challenge your understanding of time the 4th dimension and prove that what you perceive of time isn’t always accurate.


Ever felt like the years are just getting shorter and shorter? Well this is all down to reference points. When you were 4 years old, you could only have acquired memories from those four years. But now your say 20, you have a whole 20 years worth of experience to refer to.


Have you ever looked at a clock and thought that the second hand lingers for just a little bit longer than it should have. This is caused by saccades; this is to do with the way the eye views certain precise stimuli. It rapidly shakes to absorb all the information but to stop the image appearing blurry the brain take a moment to focus. This means what you’re seeing has already changed but you just didn’t notice it. For a great example of this Google JST mind lab.


Work by Woehrle and magliano (2012) has shown that working memory is like a neural memo-pad. People with higher working memory capacity can hold more items in their mind whilst solving a concurrent problem or performing a distracting task. Participants were asked to solve maths tasks and then predict how long it had taken them to solve it.  Strangely people who had higher working memory reported that time went faster.

Tachypsychia or the tachy psyche effect.

 martial artiss often perceive time as being slower. This leaves more room for thinking time an therefore a better fighter.


The fighters only experience this during the fight , so perhaps our perception of time is controlled more by our unconscious than we are comfortable to believe.

Benjamin libet’s thought provoking research showed how the brain shows activity of decision making before we are even away of it.

Even the colour of the lighting in a room can affect your perception of time.  Participants stood in a pod flooded in either red or blue light and left when they thought two minutes had passed. You would assume blue would chill you out and time would go slower and that red would get the body excited and time would pass rapidly. However, what really happens is that the red light causes people to be more alert and therefore more aware of the time passing.


Take a guess now how long you think this video is and see how accurate you are.


Woehrle, J., and Magliano, J. (2012). Time flies faster if a person has a high working-memory capacity. Acta Psychologica, 139 (2), 314-319 DOI:

  1. ellislee15 says:

    I find the our concept of time a very interesting topic, so after watching your video blog I had a look for some more research on the matter. I found a study by Sylvie Droit-Volet and Warren H. Meck on how our emotions can effect our concept of time. We find that time seems to pass a lot quicker when we are having fun and it really seems to drag when we are bored. It talks about our internal clock and the neurocognitive mechanisms that cause this to happen and why we end up paying more attention to time depending on what moods we are in. Check it out – http://lapsco.univ-bpclermont.fr/sites/droit-volet/files/2011/01/DroitMeckTICS.pdf

  2. psucc3 says:

    In that case, if we live boring lives do we live longer?

  3. petesays says:

    Nice vlogging.
    The topic is a very interesting one and the use of quote from Einstein was a cracker.
    The idea that the fighters have some sort of time slowing super powers is a bit far fetched and would prefer a but more solid research before I believe this. Although, Im not going ti be putting this point across to any MMA pros anytime soon!
    J.Hornick conducted some more believable and feasible research about consumers perception of time slowing when in queuing.
    But great use of research and a very interesting take on the topic.
    Reading it defiantly lengthened my life.

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