How Our Minds Warp Our Perception of Time on Vacation

We’ve all heard the colloquialism “time flies when you are having fun,” but a new study has found that anticipation of a fun event also makes it feel like it is over too soon.

The researchers found that people view future positive events as both further away and shorter in duration when compared to negative or neutral events.

The study authors stated that these two elements have an unusual effect when people think about a positive event like a vacation. The interminable waiting compiled with the feeling that the event will be done too quickly makes them view the beginning and the end of the event as similarly far from the present.

Simply stated, in our minds the vacation has no duration, it is over instantaneously. Another affect this all has on the mind is it makes the mind believe the endpoints of positive and negative events are both distant from the present. Anticipating a negative event, like a work trip we don’t want to go on, reserves the effect, people feel like the negative event will happen immediately and last forever.

The Journal of Consumer Psychology will publish the paper online.