How Time Flies

More

I've been told that the subjective midpoint of your life is age seventeen (yikes!).  Time crawls when you're young, but goes faster than a speeding bullet train as you hit your thirties.

New research may cast doubt on this, however:

Age accounted for four per cent of the variance in how quickly participants said the last ten years had passed and just one per cent of the perception of time's speed in general. By contrast, how busy and rushed people reported feeling accounted for ten per cent of the variance in subjective speed of time. Consistent with this, women reported feeling more rushed than men, on average, and they perceived time to go by more quickly.

So it's not youth that slows our time perception, but the fact that grammar and middle school involve incredibly long stretches of boredom.  You could probably get the same subjective effect by going to work on the right sort of assembly line.  It seems like the only way to get more subjective years is to make each one of them worth less.

But we might get a few worthy extra subjective moments if we stopped to smell the flowers a little more frequently.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Fascinating Short Film About the Multiverse

If life is a series of infinite possibilities, what does it mean to be alive?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In