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A closer look at people's perception of time

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At the start of every year, many people, both in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world, usually make a set of commitments which they call New Year's resolutions.

As we had just bid farewell to 2010 and welcomed 2011, the first year of the second decade of the present millennium, we've had our own share of stories involving our career, love life, education, and so on.

But with all the things we have experienced, have we ever found ourselves asking, "Where did my 2010 go?" or "Why does time go by so fast?"

There's no doubt that time perception is subjective which explains why we sometimes hear people say the maxim, "Time flies when you're having fun." When our attention is engaged in an interesting activity, we tend to lose track of the time and make it feel faster.

In an article posted on BBC News, researcher Tom Colls posed a question, "What speed does time travel at?"

Although the obvious answer is that it ticks by at exactly the rate of 60 seconds every minute, the real issue lies on the question about the feeling of time passing.

Generally, the article shows just how important the feeling of time passing at different speeds depends on evaluation of how much we enjoy life.

Even the famous scientist, Albert Einstein, said that time is simply something in the people's minds.

Innumerable experiments have reported that people's perception of time is faster in exciting situations, such as watching action films, and slower in boring situations, like sitting in a long line.

We may also sometimes feel like time is passing slowly while monitoring the time at the moment, but when we reflect on the years that have passed and the things we have done, they look like they went quickly.

This is explained by the study made by William Friedman and Steve Janssen. The study shed light on the cutural belief that time gets faster the older you are.

The participants of the study were 49 New Zealand undergraduates (average age 21) and 50 older adults (average age 68). They were asked how fast time passed for them, including the last week, month and year; very few differences emerged.

The study showed that “Respondents of all ages reported that time seems to pass quickly. In contrast to widely held beliefs, age differences in reports of the subjective speed of time were very small, except for the question about how fast the last 10 years had passed.”

Professor John Wearden, a time psychologist at Britain's Keele University, said it's difficult to find answers to the question on how time goes fast but he said that "time doesn't really go fast or slowly, it can't do. We are stuck in time, it just goes at the speed it goes."

Prof. Wearden also said that, "There's only one objective time, and that's measured by a clock."

Looking back at significant things that have transpired in 2010, we may realize that it's not really a matter of how fast or slow time goes by. What matters is how we make the most out of the years in our lives. (PNA)

By Avegail A. De Vera




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