The Echoes of the Mind (112-1) Time Through Life

Time Through Life

Older folk tend to perceive time as having a quicker gait. This stems from how we perceive time.

Humans estimate the duration of an event from 2 quite distinct perspectives: prospectively: while an event is occurring, or retrospectively: looking back. Further, the experience of time varies with how we feel about what we are doing. In fact, time does fly when we are having fun.

While time passes quickly during pleasurable events, in remembering that activity later it will seem to have lasted longer than more mundane experiences.

Memories are made of new experiences, not familiar ones. Hence, retrospective judgment is based on how many new memories were created over a certain period. The more novel memories made the longer an experience will seem in hindsight. This phenomenon was dubbed the holiday paradox by English psychologist Claudia Hammond.

From childhood into early adulthood, we have countless fresh experiences and learn many new skills. As adults, though, life becomes more routine and we experience less novelty. Thus, our early years tend to be overrepresented in our autobiographical memory, and so, upon reflection, seems to have lasted longer. This perceptual skew can be altered by staying mentally engaged through learning and exploration.