Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Time Flies When You’re Having Goal-Motivated Fun

22.08.2012
Though the seconds may tick by on the clock at a regular pace, our experience of the ‘fourth dimension’ is anything but uniform. When we’re waiting in line or sitting in a boring meeting, time seems to slow down to a trickle. And when we get caught up in something completely engrossing – a gripping thriller, for example – we may lose sense of time altogether.
But what about the idea that time flies when we’re having fun? New research from psychological science suggests that the familiar adage may really be true, with a caveat: time flies when we’re have goal-motivated fun.

Existing research demonstrates that experiencing positive feelings or states makes us feel like time is passing faster than negative feelings and states do. But, as some researchers observe, not all positive states are created equal. Sometimes we experience feelings of contentment or serenity. These feelings are certainly positive ones, but they aren’t very high in what researchers call ‘approach motivation’ – they don’t make us want to go out and pursue or achieve something. Feelings of desire or excitement, on the other hand, are very high in approach motivation – desire and excitement motivate us to go forth and conquer.

Psychological scientists Philip Gable and Bryan Pool of the University of Alabama hypothesized that it’s specifically those states that are high in approach motivation that make us feel like time is passing quickly. They decided to test this hypothesis in a series of three experiments and their results are published in the August 2012 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In one of the experiments, participants were trained to tell the difference between pictures shown for a ‘short’ (400 ms) or a ‘long’ (1600 ms) period of time. The participants then viewed pictures that were neutral (geometric shapes), that were positive but low in approach motivation (e.g., flowers), or that were positive and high in approach motivation (delicious desserts). For each picture, they had to indicate whether the picture had been displayed for a short or long period of time.

Just as the researchers hypothesized, the participants perceived the enticing pictures of desserts as having been displayed for a shorter amount of time than either the neutral geometric shapes or the pleasing pictures of flowers.

The researchers also found that the perceived amount of time for the enticing pictures was related to when participants had eaten that day. Those participants who had eaten recently (lowering their approach motivation for food) judged the dessert pictures as having been displayed for longer periods of time than their hungrier peers.

These findings were confirmed in a second study, in which participants reported time as passing faster when they looked at the dessert pictures with the expectation that they would be able to eat those desserts later, suggesting that our desire to approach something really does make time fly by.

Importantly, this feeling that time is somehow shorter seems to be the specific result of our desire to approach or pursue something, not a more general effect of heightened attention or physiological arousal. In a third study, the researchers found that looking at pictures that evoked highly unpleasant feelings, which can also make us more alert and attentive, did not shorten people’s perception of time.

Gable and Pool propose that states high in approach motivation make us feel like time is passing quickly because they narrow our memory and attention processes, helping us to shut out irrelevant thoughts and feelings. This perceived shortening of time may help us to persist for longer periods of time in pursuing important adaptive goals, including food, water, and companionship.

“Although we tend to believe that time flies when we’re having a good time, these studies indicate what it is about the enjoyable time that causes it to go by more quickly,” says Gable. “It seems to be the goal pursuit or achievement-directed action we’re engaged in that matters. Just being content or satisfied may not make time fly, but being excited or actively pursuing a desired object can.”

For more information about this study, please contact: Philip A. Gable at pagable@gmail.com.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Time Flies When You’re Having Approach-Motivated Fun: Effects of Motivational Intensity on Time Perception" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Anna Mikulak at 202-293-9300 or amikulak@psychologicalscience.org.

Anna Mikulak | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>