Jared, Utah asked:
Iíve noticed as Iíve grown older that time feels like itís moving faster than when I was growing up. Is there any reason for this and what is it?
We put this to John Wearden, Professor of Psychology, Keele
The question posed is a simple question but it has a complicated answer and itís not a thing thatís been researched in any great detain unfortunately. The commonest anecdote seems to be a kind of paradoxical statement about time where older people report that hours seem to drag but the months pass very quickly. In other words time seems to pass rather slowly when theyíre experiencing it but in retrospect seems to have flashed past very quickly. How can this happen? The feeling that time passing Ė whether timeís passing quickly or slowly while youíre listening to me, for example, generally seems to be governed by the activities that occupy the time period. If youíre watching an exciting film, for example time seems to pass very quickly. If youíre in some very boring situation time seems to pass very slowly. SO when you look backwards over the day it seems very long when there are a lot of activities. Whereas if there are very few activities, particularly very few new activities, it may appear retrospectively very short. The time paradox in older people: both the slowness of time as experienced as it passes and the retrospective feeling that itís flashing past may be caused by a general tendency for older people to have fewer novel life experiences than they do when theyíre younger. That seems to account for both the apparently paradoxical aspects of time experienced in aging.
Isn't this analogous to hand-cranked movie cameras...
Hi Jarad, I've got a theory about this. Lets consider our opinions on the subject we held as six year olds.
To add to the mathematical ponderings of the two previous posts I would consider the fact that, in terms of brain function, every experience fed into the brain via the sensory system as well as all that input's 'digested'product, is stored and accessible to varying degrees.
...and why does a return journey seem to take less time than the outward leg? chris, Fri, 31st Oct 2008
would you clarify that Chris? wannabe, Sat, 1st Nov 2008
I would think the mechanism to be similar Chris, awareness perception being modulated by experience; childhood experience dealing with the size of the database being one variety, preoccupation during anticipatory experience in the present being another; conscious awareness after all is but momentary expression of states, be they sensory inputs at a given moment or the memory assisted processing of previous inputs and the modulation of either by the emotional system. wannabe, Sat, 1st Nov 2008
It's all relative to a persons perspective! Time moves to us according to our perception of it. Like was said earlier, when you are young a set period of time, say a month, seems longer. This is because that a single month makes up a larger portion of your life then a month does when you are older. This carries on to the second question, a return trip seems longer only if you are less excited about the return trip. For someone that is more excited about getting home then leaving home, the perception would be changed so that the return trip would seem shorter. This of course carries to many things such as "Time flys while your having fun", or "a watched pot never boils". It's all in our perception of time and how we relate to the passing of it.
My own theory is we are busier as adults! The older we are the more we take on - and we are racing the clock!
For anyone who has to get up for work it seems maddening that the time between alarm clock going off in the morning goes much faster than the time before lunch or leaving off time! Lynda, Sun, 9th Nov 2008
By email@example.com (the Guest below) Sorry about the parsing "Name"; short on time. My "knee jerk" observation is: 'We're close to the end of the toilet paper roll' Bigger circles O vs o take less revolutions; ergo, seems slower. Thank you, I was here all week, hope you tried the veal. oh well.... But seriously tho folks, the way I've thought time going faster, at least in the last 5 years or so (now 59 y.o.), at least the way it makes sense to me, is: "Ever take a long car trip to a destination you and your honey never been before? i.e., Las Vegas from Ohio about 2000 miles. You get on the Interstate, head west on I-40, you're excited, 16 hours later you're in Amarillo, Tx looking for an unfamiliar Interstate exit for a cloud 6. Next day you think you can drive on through to Vegas....well you make it to Flagstaff, Az tired and ready to sleep. Next day you finaly make it to Vegas and hope you have the energy to give Vegas all your money because it took longer than you thought to get to Vegas (it didn't look that far on the map did it) on top of that you missed that last exit you needed to exit because you're unfamiliar with Vegas area. STAY WITH ME NOW.... Now, you timed your money just right that you wanted to give Vegas 1 week later. Yawn, Up, get in the car, get on the Interstate east toward good ole Ohio. You're out of money, the time spent on the vacation has made you tired, hope you have enough energy to get home, why did you drive it anyway going through your mind...You don't stop at Hoover dam and a couple other places you stopped on the way to Vegas (been there seen that), you just wanna get home to relax. But, now on your way home you know all the exits to take so you just keep driving knowing which exit you're gonna exit to rest a little. And, (with your honey driving a little) the....Next.....thing you know you look down the road and see that last exit that takes you to your house where you can finally lie down and rest from the "fun" of Vegas. HUH? Moral?(no thank you): At (pick an age over 55) - We've been, There! Yep, done that (a few times), and we have seen all the scenery along the way of this 'unknown' life. And we can see that last exit from here, and it's getting closer all the time. ps.I was asked by a young man, "what's the worse thing about getiing old,?" Not thinking myself old (teenager/musician in the 60's you know), I replied, "Getting old". (But I still don't need viva viagra) Time-Faster-Age, Wed, 10th Dec 2008
I read all the blogs and theroy about why time seems to be moving faster, that it's all in the perception.. This may be true, but i seriuosly think, that its something more than that. I think its more scientific, maybe a time/ space thing, i dont know, im not a scientist, but just as a dog can hear sounds that humans cant. I think I can actually feel time, like a sixth sense, now Im sure, whoever is reading this may think im totally whacked. but ive been trying to anyalyze this for a while now.. there is something happening with time, i can sense it i can feel it. Can i explain it? Time is moving faster! even if i do nothing all day, the theroy says it should be a long day, but no, time moves for me, extremely fast. now i said for me, maybe its the way my brain processes time, either through the phisology of my make up or maybe im just nuts! but when i tell you that I feel it inside of me that time is moving faster, I know that something is truly happening, maybe too subtle for the average person to feel, but it IS happening.. ok im going to check myself into the looney bin now.. does anyone have the time?? TimeTrekker Rick, Sun, 14th Dec 2008
This explanation is not correct. When I was a child, I had nothing to do all summer, i was bored every day and the summer felt like forever, also now, when I look back, it seems like it took forever. Now, I have a lot to do, many new experiences, and I have a feeling time is passing by at the speed of light. Kris, Thu, 29th Jan 2009
Those of you who are 55 or older think about this. The 80's were 30 years ago...seem like yesterday to you? Connie, Mon, 2nd Feb 2009
Not that age but I can say this.
Me too Chemistry4me, Tue, 10th Feb 2009
Couldn't life seem faster because everything is faster. It used to take a week to travel 30km now only minutes. In the future it may only take an nanosecond. echochartruse, Mon, 2nd Mar 2009
I need a ticking-time bomb! Chemistry4me, Fri, 27th Mar 2009
LoL.... raghavendra, Sat, 28th Mar 2009
Why has that spam still not been spotted? Chemistry4me, Sat, 28th Mar 2009
No, the 80s was the day before yesterday. The 90s was yesterday.
No, the 80s was the day before yesterday. The 90s was yesterday.
Times always have present motion. We are not in a position to hold it. But many times we repent at present for our past did and keep worrying about future. If and if we could able to concentrate in present ur time shall never run faster or slower too. textilesinfomediarydotcom, Sun, 5th Apr 2009
I absolutely agree with this view. The older one gets, their ability to process information slows down. While we're young, our brains are more able to analyze greater quanities of data, this activity fills up our time with more information to scrutinize. This would naturely have the effect of causing our preception of it's passage to slow down. Conversely, the opposite will happen as our brains become less efficient resulting in the illusion that time is speeding up.............Ethos Ethos, Mon, 13th Apr 2009
I did notice this for sure and here follow reasons applicable to me I would guess.
Very little research exists on this subject, but it has been researched. The pervading wisdom points mostly toward the posts here that mention "novelty" of experiences. When young, most all experiences are new or unknowns. As we get older, we go through many routines each day that hardly require new input to accomplish, since the data already exists in our minds (kind of like autopilot). And after a certain age, we are capable of metacognition--thinking about our thinking. So, when something NEW comes along, we have enough experience behind us to 'create' a scenario in our mind that accomplishes the anticipated end from our own means). The novelty, that used to stretch our minds to create our own unique perception of experiences, has worn away and an internal routine has taken over. You would need to have an extremely life altering experience, see through someone else's eyes or lose your complete memory to experience the same kind of novelty as when quite young. Time isn't moving any faster than it was years ago, and your perception hasn't really changed either. It's just that your mind is too busy routing all of your past experience to make your daily routines flow--and sometimes become more efficient--to be able to allow your mind to basically 'surprise' itself anymore. Obstacles, Wed, 3rd Jun 2009
My own take on this is that is not a matter of perception but a matter of consciousness. Consciousness is a kind of generalised awareness which takes into account our every day perceptions, our memories, our dreams, our sensory imput, our feelings or emotions etc. As children this generalised awareness is limited as we are still trying to form links between all of those everyday perceptions. Our general sense of the world is that is is fast and immediate.
could it be that the way we experience time is related to the speed which we are traveling away from the center of the universe? if it's true that the universe is expanding at an exponentially increasing speed, could this cause time to speed up for us as time passes here on earth (as measured by the earth orbiting the sun)? jen, Sun, 29th Apr 2012