Word from the alley

Posted by Tenpin at 12.00pm on 20 October 2014

Blog having fun 

Time Flies When You're Having Fun... or Does it?

You know that feeling that time seems to go faster when you're doing something enjoyable like bowling. Well … (trumpet fanfare) … it may not be true.

Sometimes, when you're really concentrating on an activity (like lining up the perfect shot), it can actually almost feel as if you're in slow motion.

A scientific experiment way back in 1992 showed that paying greater attention to something meant that people thought they'd spent longer on the activity.

And what about when you have a really great weekend away? When you get back to school or work on Monday it can feel as if you've been away for a week. Time feels as if it's been stretched out.

The fact that we believe time goes faster when we're having fun may be more about the opposite: the fact that time seems to crawl by when we're not having a good time. Boredom gives us plenty of opportunity to count the seconds as they pass and get the feeling that time has practically stopped. Zzzzzzz …

Have we Got it Back to Front?

In a 2010 experiment, people carrying out a boring task were tricked into thinking it had only taken half the time. The other participants were told the correct length of time the task took. The people who thought time had passed quickly found the task more enjoyable than the people who knew how much time it had really taken. Bizarre!

So maybe it's the other way round? Perhaps, if you feel time has passed quickly, you're just more likely to assume you've been enjoying yourself.

A Question of Belief

In the end it may simply depend on whether you believe time flies when you're having fun. The 2010 experiment tested this idea. The people who believed more firmly that time flies when you're having fun were more likely to believe they were having fun when time flew. So the whole thing could just be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Then again an experiment in 2012 showed that you only get the feeling of time flying if you're actively pursuing a goal or achievement. Just being happy or having a pleasant experience doesn't make time fly - but being excited or actively pursuing a desired action (like a win on the lanes) can.

Are You Still With us? Well done

By now you've spent a few minutes reading this blog. It may have been very pleasant, but wouldn't you rather be bowling? Get down to the lanes now and carry out your own experiments!

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