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The Reason It Feels Like Time is Speeding Up

The Reason It Feels Like Time is Speeding Up post image

If you feel that time is constantly racing by nowadays, then there could be a psychological explanation.

If you feel that time is constantly racing by nowadays, then there could be a psychological explanation.

Psychologist, Dr Aoife McLoughlin, has been looking at how our technological lifestyles may be affecting our perception of time.

Dr McLoughlin said:

“I’ve found some indication that interacting with technology and technocentric societies has increased some type of pacemaker within us.

While it might help us to work faster, it also makes us feel more pressured by time.

As the speed of pace of life increases, the subjective feeling of available time decreases, causing a sense of time pressure within the individual.”

Her conclusions are based on studies which compared people who are always using technology to those who rarely use it.

She found that people who were always online tended to think an hour had passed when in fact it was only 50 minutes.

This tended to make people feel stressed as they thought they had ‘lost’ more time than their disconnected peers.

Dr McLoughlin said:

“What I’m arguing is that there is a genuine quantifiable cognitive basis for this advice, rather than it simply being about taking a step back.

It’s a scientific reason to stop and smell the roses.”

We don’t yet know whether these psychological effects are positive or negative, but Dr McLoughlin is not sanguine:

“I feel it would lead to an increase in time-stress, which has been linked to heart disease, among other things.

High time-pressure is also significantly related to distress among both men and women, and is related to increased levels of depression in women who work outside of the home.

On the positive side, a faster processing speed may be an advantage in many circumstances.”

Some ancient practices may help with the perception that time is speeding up:

“Meditation and mindfulness could help being in the moment – understanding that real ‘clock time’ is stable, and it is not really passing faster.”

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:

Dr Dean’s bio, Twitter, Facebook and how to contact him.

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