'Covid-19 gave us all a little insight into what it is like to “lose time'

Dr Ruth Ogden struck a blow for part-time staff when she won the VC’s Award for Excellence in Research earlier this year.

A psychologist, Ruth is PI on a €1.7M CHANSE programme which explores Time Experience in Europe’s Digital Age and involves the BBC, Unison, the Institute for the Future of Work, & local NHS Trusts. She also enjoys a growing profile as a commentator on how people experience the passage of time.


What’s your reaction to being selected from all the great researchers at LJMU?

I was really honoured and humbled to receive the award. It has been a very intense couple of years applying for the projects and collecting the data and it is really motivating to receive this acknowledgment from the University. It is also great to work for an institution which is so supportive of its part-time staff and actively recognises their achievements.

Tell us a little about your educational background and how you ended up in psychology research.

To be honest, I was never a very motivated schoolpupil – my mum had to pay me to do my GCSEs! I became more interested in education when I went to university to study psychology at the University of Manchester. During my degree I became particularly interested in how people experience the passage of time. I was lucky enough to complete a PhD in this area straight after my degree and since then I have lectured at LJMU where I research all aspects of human temporal experience.

Why do you love your work?

Because I get to work with amazing colleagues and fantastic students. I get to learn from all of their expertise and this helps me to develop interesting projects.  I particularly love the way that research takes you to places that you never imagined going to – both geographically and intellectually.

What motivates you to ask the questions you do about human perceptions?

Time is our most precious resource. It’s the one thing you rarely have enough of, and when it’s gone, there is no getting it back. How we experience time is highly subjective, sometimes is flying by in an instant, other times is drags like a stone around your neck. I am motivated to understand why time is so subjective, and to establish how we can use this subjectivity to improve our health, wellbeing and quality of life.

Why is this work important?

Time is the structure through which all of our activities and emotions take place. It is the thing that we take away from people when they are incarcerated, and it is the passing of time which helps us to recover from trauma. The more we understand about how people experience the passage of time, the more we can use changes in the passage of time to improve health, wellbeing and quality of life.


And why this field so eye-catching? – you’ve certainly had a lot of media coverage and articles in The Conversation.

Time is one of those things that we all have lived experience of, this helps to make it intrinsically interesting to most people. I think that Covid-19 piqued everyone’s interest in time because it gave us all a little insight into what it is like to “lose time”. As a result, people are now really keen to understand more about how we process time and want the answers to fundamental questions like, “why does time slow down in a car crash?”, “does time really speed up as you get older”, and “why does time fly when you’re having fun?”.



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