Table of contents:

Stretched Out Over Time - Self-development
Stretched Out Over Time - Self-development

Video: Stretched Out Over Time - Self-development

Video: Stretched Out Over Time - Self-development
Video: The Dark Side of Self Improvement | Suzanne Eder | TEDxWilmington 2023, May

There is no more mysterious substance than time! We often say: "Minutes have passed, hours are dragging on." But any physicist will say that time is a constant, it cannot go faster or slower. Where do the sensations of running away and deceleration of time come from?


“We are woven from the substance of time. Time is a river that carries me away, but this river is myself; the tiger that devours me, but this tiger is myself; the fire that burns me, but this fire is me again,”wrote Jorge Luis Borges. Time determines our life and behavior. At the same time, until now, no one knows exactly what it is! No one doubts that it is, that it "goes", since everyone sees around him various processes with a change of phenomena. All this proves that, in addition to space, there is another dimension vector. But how to measure it correctly? To operate with a recalcitrant substance, scientists have come up with a so-called "observer": a character who fixes the changes in the surrounding reality, reflecting the passage of time. But as soon as everything became a little clearer, a new question was not long in coming:if time cannot be noticed and comprehended without an observer, is it not the observer himself who creates time? Psychologists, bypassing the philosophical jungle, left only the "observer" and asked the question: how does his own perception of time depend on a particular person?

Unlike objective time, psychological time is subject to various changes. Each of us is familiar with the feeling that time goes on forever. Minutes in queues or spent at a boring occupation seem like hours to many. And it happens that you meet with friends, and suddenly someone says: "It's already two in the morning." How?! You thought - maximum eleven o'clock in the evening! Time just flew by. In general, the perception of time has many aspects: a sense of the passage of time, an assessment of the duration of what is happening in the present, past and future. Scientists, looking at research results, talk about a biological "clock" in the human brain, but no one has yet found this clock.

We know so little about the perception of time because it has never been a focus of science and investment. Most of the research has been done in animals. This is strange, because, it would seem, to unravel the mystery of time means to control it. Nevertheless, something is already known, and science continues to reveal the secrets of time.


The feeling of the passage of time is just an illusion of our perception, many scientists believe. If it were a physical characteristic of the world, it would not depend on a subjective assessment of what is happening. The following experiment, like many others, shows that our perception of time is often illusory. Volunteers are encouraged to press the space bar on the keyboard, and a glowing circle appears on the monitor screen. An interval of 200 milliseconds is set between the key press and the appearance of the light. The experimenters then reduce this interval to 50 milliseconds, and then the participants are ready to swear that it lit up even before they touch the key!

You can understand how you perceive time in general by answering a question. You had an appointment for Wednesday, but was postponed two days. Without hesitation for a long time, tell me: to what day was it postponed? (The answer is at the end of the article.)

Philip Zimbardo, the author of one of the most famous and scandalous studies - the Stanford Prison Experiment, has long been involved in the psychology of time. The scientist found that time orientation influences our decisions and behavior, shaping our lives, even if we are not aware of it. Here's a classic experiment: 10-year-olds were offered one candy, but told that if they wait five minutes, they get two. Two-thirds of the children succumbed to the temptation, the rest began to expect more rewards in the future. Fourteen years later, the participants in this experiment were identified and analyzed. There was an incredible difference between the groups of sweet tooth and hardy! Those who could wait had a huge lead in school grades, were good students, were less addicted to bad habits, got better jobs, and earned more.

Zimbardo described six types of relationship with time and found confirmation of the influence of this relationship on all aspects of life, even in politics. Why, for example, do northern Italians not understand southern Italians? Because northerners are more focused on the future, while southerners want to have fun here and now, caring less about what will happen tomorrow.

As a result of his research, Zimbardo deduced an optimal attitude to time: one must be oriented towards the future, moderately relate to pleasures in the present and positively relate to one's past (try to remember mostly good things, and take difficulties as a useful experience). Pessimism and fatalism are very harmful traits that give rise to helplessness and lead to depression.


Emotions, danger, stress

The sense of danger and the associated strong emotions change the perception of time, giving rise to the effect of its fading. The fact is that in a state of stress, the body is rapidly mobilized, all nervous processes are accelerated, the brain processes information at an incredible speed, since all the body's resources are directed to a way out of a life-threatening situation. It is not surprising that in a state of such alertness, thoughts and movements accelerate to such an extent that time in comparison really "freezes". This phenomenon has been well studied in combat. Thus, studies have shown that during shootings in 65% of cases, policemen experienced a sense of time slowing down. It has also been found that earthquakes feel much longer than in reality.

Alan Johnson, a BBC journalist held hostage by a radical Islamist group for four months, said that one night he heard news on the radio that he had been executed! Johnson thought that his invaders had broken the news in advance and would soon come to carry out the sentence. Time slowed dramatically, and that night seemed like an eternity to him.

Psychologist David Eagleman from Baylor College of Medicine (USA) decided to test whether it is true that sudden acute stress and fear cause time dilation. He recruited volunteers who agreed to jump from a thirty-meter tower onto a net fixed below: it was safe, but very scary. A watch was attached to their arm, on which the numbers were changing with great speed, it was impossible to see them in their normal state. The researcher believed that if the time for the volunteers slowed down, they would be able to see these numbers. But none of this happened, and, most likely, the slowing down of subjective time is an internal illusion.

The famous experiment of American psychologists Jean Tuenge, Caitlin Catanise and Roy Baumeister, published in 2003 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, showed how social rejection changes both the personality of people and their perception of time. The volunteers were gathered in a room where they met and talked about common topics. The scientists then asked each participant to choose two people with whom they would perform certain tasks. These people were unnoticed and randomly divided into two groups. One of the participants was told: “Sorry, this has never happened before, but no one has chosen you and you will have to work alone.” Others were told they were so popular that everyone chose them and it would only be fair if they worked alone. They were then asked to rate the duration of one minute. For those who were rejected by everyone, the minute lasted a very long time, but for the popular and loved ones it flew by quickly.

Pain, substances, temperature, illness

Time slows down when we feel pain. But alcohol in large doses speeds up time, as does cocaine and methamphetamine. Marijuana most often slows down time.

American psychologist Hoagland Hudson accidentally drew attention to the fact that his sick wife complained that he had gone too long to get her medications, while he was only a minute away. He became interested and asked her to mentally measure one minute. She signaled at the 37th second. Hoagland did several dozen experiments, finding that the higher the body temperature, the longer the minute seemed.

Another psychologist, Alan Budley, investigated the opposite phenomenon by asking the testers to swim in the cold sea. He found that the subjective minute for swimmers was two minutes in real time.

Depression and dark thoughts lead to a subjective sense of time dilation. For children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, time passes very slowly. When a teacher asks such a child to sit quietly for at least five minutes, for him it seems intolerable for a long time. In schizophrenics, time changes in many different directions. But people with Tourette's syndrome (a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary motor tics and cries of rudeness) are incredibly accurate in determining the length of time, especially those who have learned to suppress their seizures.

Answering the question about rescheduling the meeting

If you answered that the meeting was rescheduled for Friday, you are "moving" along the timeline. If you answered "Monday," then you perceive time as moving towards you. Compared to "Friday" people, you are less in control of what is happening and more subject to the influence of the past.

Popular by topic