How can an hour feel like 10 minutes?
This is something we find ourselves wondering often – particularly on the days when we blink and our lunch break is over.
Well, it turns out, how we perceive time is based on how we use it, and spending your lunch break sitting indoors is likely to make it feel shorter.
Spending your lunch break outside on a busy street will make it feel longer than if you eat quietly at your desk, according to a Sussex University study.
This is because our perception of time can change depending on the stimulus we take in. In fact, experts believe that we calculate time internally by counting the number of things happening to us.
So, in a busy environment, we feel we have been there longer.
The study involved showing 40 participants separate videos depicting either bustling streets or a sleepy office for up to 24 seconds.
When they looked at the street scenes, individuals typically felt they had spent more time watching the videos. But looking at a boring office, people felt they had spent less time.
The finding was also replicated in MRI scans of people in the study, which were published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.
Dr Maxine Sherman, of Sussex University, who led the study, said: ‘Going out for a walk during your lunch break exposes you to people walking past, overheard conversations, shop signs, traffic and your own thoughts about the day.
‘It makes sense that when you look back at all those things that happened during that lunch break, it feels like it was longer.’
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