One in four of us have experienced time as moving faster or slower than normal since the COVID pandemic began.
As many as 80% of people have felt like time has distorted, according to a study of the ‘Spring Lockdown’ in the UK by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).
“Half felt it was faster than normal and half felt it was slower than normal,” says Dr Ruth Odgen who studies time perception in the LJMU’s School of Psychology.
“It was people who were busy, more socially interactive and younger people who described time as going faster, whereas it seemed to pass more slowly for people who were older (65+), socially dissatisfied and people not busy or stressed.”
What about Autumn Lockdown?
Ruth wants to see whether having more experience of lockdown helps time to pass more normally, so is carrying out a further study. She’s also interested in how people shielding and self-isolating experience time differently to those who are just locked down.
“There are some interesting questions around compliance. Many people clearly are unnerved by changes in how they perceive time and it could be that they are being non-compliant with aspects of lockdown to help it pass more quickly.
“It seems, quite naturally, that we all want to lengthen what we like and shorten what we don’t. Understanding how time changes in different circumstances will help us to develop mechanisms to have more control over subjective time.”
Mastering time perception is more than just an academic fascination; it also has clinical implications with people with a host of conditions, from autism, ADHD and schizophrenia, experiencing altered focus of time.
So, do you feel time differently? And are you learning to live with it in this second period of quarantine? Well, you can contribute your views in this short questionnaire https://ljmupsych.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_74JZXijJrG1EUSN.