Forum Scientiarum

Passage of time judgements: Investigating the subjective "speed" of time

John Wearden, School of Psychology, Keele University, U.K.



It is common for people to report that time seems to have passed more quickly or slowly than normal in one situation or another. These passage of time judgements have received little attention from experimental psychologists, although philosophers and sociologists have been interested in them. This talk discusses a number of questions. What factors govern how fast time seems to pass in some situation? How do passage of time judgements relate to judgements of duration, if they do at all? What are people reporting when they make passage of time judgements? Do passage of time judgements change systematically with age, supporting the commonly-held view that "time seems to pass more quickly as we get older"? I will present evidence addressing these questions derived from laboratory experiments, as well as questionnaires, and studies using an "experience sampling" technique that attempts to measure passage of time judgements in a person's everyday life. I will also discuss previous ideas about passage of time coming from sociology and philosophy, some of which can be turned into questions that can be experimentally investigated.