True rate of hedonic experiences

True rate of hedonic experiences

Two separate tests evaluate our perception about “time flies:”

The folk psychology belief “time flies when you’re having fun” is so powerful and ubiquitous, the researchers say, that whenever we feel an event has passed more quickly than we expected, we infer that we must have been enjoying ourselves, and vice versa for events that drag.

In one test:

The researchers first had dozens of undergrads look through passages of text and underline any words with adjacent repeats of a particular letter.

In another:

When participants read a scientific article challenging the “time flies” adage, speeding up their subjective sense of time no longer increased their enjoyment of a word-based task.

Which means:

‘Taken together, these findings have important implications for understanding and changing hedonic experience,’ the researchers said. … [T]he first thing to do is minimise people’s access to accurate time cues. Next, alter their subjective time perception. There are numerous ways to do this. For example, physiological arousal speeds time perception so a free coffee at the start of a long queue could work (as long as no clocks were in sight). Even music that’s incongruent with the context (e.g. Chinese music in an English restaurant) has been found to speed time. Finally, you need the surprise moment, when people are alerted to the true passage of time. That provokes in people the sensation of time having flown, followed by the gratifying inference that they must therefore have been enjoying themselves.

In your free time, you might conduct some experiments yourself.