The Earth takes exactly 23.9 hours to spin around its axis, but you may have noticed that, during quarantine, time seems to pass more slowly. Philip Gable, associate professor of psychology at the University of Delaware, says that Science has an answer to this feeling: it is the fault of our emotional state.
Gable devoted 10 years to research related to the dynamics of time perception and explains that, in his studies, he came to the conclusion that negative thoughts tend to slow the way we see the passage of hours - and that positive ones, on the other hand, accelerate . As during the pandemic we wake up every day waiting for a real emotional roller coaster, well, then things really drag on.
Thanks to a partnership with the National Science Foundation of the United States, the researcher and his team developed an application to record emotions, perceptions and behaviors of residents of the North American country in these turbulent times.
Based on monthly data, they were able to track what happens to people’s “internal clock”, exploring what went wrong and the source of the problems. The analysis of this information showed that time does not always fly.
Emotion and motivation are directly linked. If, when we have fun, everything seems to run faster than desired, in a car accident, for example, things seem to go into a slow motion state. This is due to phenomena called “approach motivation” and “avoidance motivation”. The more our mind turns to either side, the more it perceives time differently.
According to Gable, when determining goals, the human brain takes care to reach the goal defined by its owner as soon as possible. However, when feeling threatened, he slows down the perception to get out of situations that seem harmful as soon as possible.
Considering all the risks generated by covid-19, according to the scientist, it is common, even in daily activities, to keep a warning signal on. Allied to this, there is still a lack of perspective to close the scenario, making things a little more complicated.
Of course, nothing is final. As we get used to the “new normal”, factors such as stress and anxiety tend to decrease, as the routine is being adapted. Still, for those who suffer from dragging time, Gable suggests actions that can soften the situation: exercise and engage in hobbies. “Your pace can accelerate enough to make you feel a little better.”