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10 Ways Our Minds Warp Time
1. Life-threatening situations
To test this, Stetson et al. (2007) had people staring at a special chronometer while free-falling 50 metres into a net. What they found was that time resolution doesn't increase: we're not able to distinguish shorter periods of time when in danger. What happens is we remember the time as longer because we record more of the experience. Life-threatening experiences make us really pay attention but we don't gain superhuman powers of perception.
2. Time doesn't fly when you're having fun
prepare yourself for a 180 degree about-face—it could all be the other way around. Perhaps you're having fun when time flies. In other words, we assume we've been enjoying ourselves when we notice that time has passed quickly.
There's evidence for this in a recent experiment by Sackett et al. (2010). Participants doing a boring task were tricked into thinking it had lasted half as long as it really had. They thought it was more enjoyable than those who had been doing exactly the same task but who hadn't been tricked about how much time had passed.
3. The stopped clock illusion
What is happening is that when your eyes move from one point to another (a saccade), your perception of time stretches slightly (Yarrow et al., 2001). Weirdly, it stretches backwards. So your brain tells you that you've been looking at the watch for slightly longer than you really have. Hence the illusion that the second-hand is frozen for more than a second.
4. Too tired to tell the time
5. Self-regulation stretches time
6. Altered states of consciousness
7. Does time speed up with age?
8. The emotional experience of time
9. It's getting hot in here
10. What's your tempo?
To test this, Stetson et al. (2007) had people staring at a special chronometer while free-falling 50 metres into a net. What they found was that time resolution doesn't increas