Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Has it really Been that Long? Why Time Seems to Speed up with Age

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Timing & Time Perception

The impression that time speeds up with age is a well known phenomenon. In the literature, a number of theories on this age effect exists, but results of the respective studies are inconclusive, and even somewhat paradoxical: The age effect occurred only when speed of time was judged for periods in the past. However, usually no difference was found when comparing present time perception between participants in different age groups. Our investigation had two aims: To begin, we tried to solve the riddle of this paradox. We contend that a context of comparison is needed for the age effect to occur, that is, a comparison of present time perception with the perception in previous life periods. The second aim was to compare potential causes of the age effect. Participants in a large sample (n = 517) covering a wide age range (20–80 years) provided time judgments and its potential predictors for both current and previous life periods. No age effect was found for speed of time in current life if only age was used as a predictor. If, however, other factors were statistically controlled for, a weak but noticeable age effect was found. Consistent with prior results, a clear age effect was obtained when participants compared different life periods retrospectively. Perceived time pressure and the number of routines are important factors of time perception both in current and previous life periods. A decreasing frequency of new life experiences seems to explain only the age effect of retrospective time perception.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Anderson R. C.,, & Pearson P. D., (1984). "A schema-theoretic view of basic processes in reading comprehension". In Pearson P. D. (Ed.), Handbook of reading research (pp. 255291). New York, NY, USA: Longman.
2. Avni-Babad D.,, & Ritov I. (2003). "Routine and the perception of time". J. Exp. Psychol. Gen. , 132, 543550.
3. Bar-Haim Y.,, Kerem A.,, Lamy D.,, & Zakay D. (2010). "When time slows down: The influence of threat on time perception in anxiety". Cogn. Emot. , 24, 255263.
4. Baum S. K.,, Boxley R. L.,, & Sokolowski M. (1984). "Time perception and psychological well-being in the elderly". Psychiatr. Q. , 56, 5461.
5. Birnbaum M. H. (1999). "How to show that 9 > 221: Collect judgments in a between-subjects design". Psychol. Meth. , 4, 243249.
6. Block R. A., (1989). "Experiencing and remembering time: Affordances, context, and cognition". In Levin I., & Zakay D. (Eds), Time and human cognition: A life-span perspective (pp. 333363). Oxford, UK: North-Holland.
7. Block R. A.,, & Reed M. A. (1978). "Remembered duration: Evidence for a contextual-change hypothesis". J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Learn. Mem. , 4, 656665.
8. Block R. A.,, Zakay D.,, & Hancock P. A. (1998). "Human aging and duration judgments: A meta-analytic review". Psychol. Aging , 13, 584596.
9. Boltz M. G.,, Kupperman C.,, & Dunne J. (1998). "The role of learning in remembered duration". Mem. Cogn. , 26, 903921.
10. Buehler R.,, Griffin D.,, & Ross M. (1994). "Exploring the “planning fallacy”: Why people underestimate their task completion times". J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. , 67, 366381.
11. Carstensen L. L. (2006). "The influence of a sense of time on human development". Science , 312(5782), 19131915.
12. Carstensen L. L.,, Isaacowitz D. M.,, & Charles S. T. (1999). "Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity". Am. Psychol. , 54, 165181.
13. Chopik W. J. (2017). "Death across the lifespan: Age differences in death-related thoughts and anxiety". Death Stud. , 41, 6977
14. Cohen J.,, Cohen P.,, West S. G.,, & Aiken L. S. (2003). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.). Mahwah, NJ, USA: Erlbaum.
15. Craik F. I.,, & Hay J. F. (1999). "Aging and judgments of duration: Effects of task complexity and method of estimation". Percept. Psychophys. , 61, 549560.
16. Diener E. D.,, Emmons R. A.,, Larsen R. J.,, & Griffin S. (1985). "The satisfaction with life scale". J. Pers. Assess. , 49, 7175.
17. Droit-Volet S. (2013). "Time perception, emotions and mood disorders". J. Physiol. Paris , 107, 255264.
18. Droit-Volet S. (in press). "Time does not fly but slow down in old age". Time Soc. , doi: 10.1177/0961463X16656852.
19. Droit-Volet S.,, & Wearden J. H. (2015). "Experience sampling methodology reveals similarities in the experience of passage of time in young and elderly adults". Acta Psychol. , 156, 7782.
20. Droit-Volet S.,, Fayolle S.,, Lamotte M.,, & Gil S. (2013). "Time, emotion and the embodiment of timing". Timing Time Percept. , 1, 99126.
21. Friedman W. J.,, & Janssen S. M. J. (2010). "Aging and the speed of time". Acta Psychol. , 134, 130141.
22. Glaesmer H.,, Grande G.,, Braehler E.,, & Roth M. (2011). "The German version of the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS): Psychometric properties, validity, and population-based norms". Eur. J. Psychol. Assess. , 27, 127132.
23. Grondin S. (2010). "Timing and time perception: A review of recent behavioral and neuroscience findings and theoretical directions". Atten. Percept. Psychophys. , 72, 561582.
24. Hovland C. I.,, Harvey O. J.,, & Sherif M. (1957). "Assimilation and contrast effects in reactions to communication and attitude change". J. Abnorm. Soc. Psychol. , 55, 244252.
25. James W. (1890). The principles of psychology . London, UK: MacMillan.
26. Janet P. (1877). "Une illusion d'optique interne [An illusion of internal perpective]". Rev. Philos. Fr. Etranger , Vol 3, 497502.
27. Janssen S. J.,, Naka M.,, & Friedman W. J. (2013). "Why does life appear to speed up as people get older?" Time Soc. , 22, 274290.
28. Jerusalem M.,, & Schwarzer R. (1986). "Selbstwirksamkeit. [Self-Efficacy.] Skalen Befindlichk". Persönlichk , 5, 1528.
29. John D.,, & Lang F. R. (2015). "Subjective acceleration of time experience in everyday life across adulthood". Dev. Psychol. , 51, 18241839.
30. Joubert C. E. (1983). "Subjective acceleration of time: Death anxiety and sex differences". Percept. Mot. Skills , 57, 4950.
31. Joubert C. E. (1990). "Subjective expectations of the acceleration of time with aging". Percept. Mot. Skills , 70, 334.
32. Kahneman D.,, & Tversky A. (1979). "Intuitive prediction: Biases and corrective procedures". Stud. Man. Sci. , 12, 313327.
33. Laux L.,, Glanzmann P.,, Schaffner P.,, & Spielberger C. D. (1981). STAI: Das State-Trait-Angstinventar [STAI: State-Trait Anxiety Inventory] . Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe-Verlag.
34. Lemlich R. (1975). "Subjective acceleration of time with aging". Percept. Mot. Skills , 41, 235238.
35. Mioni G.,, Stablum F.,, Prunetti E.,, & Grondin S. (2016). "Time perception in anxious and depressed patients: A comparison between time reproduction and time production tasks". J. Affect. Disord. , 196, 154163.
36. Nobre C.,, & Coull J. T. (2011). Attention and time . Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
37. Quinn P. K.,, & Reznikoff M. (1985). "The relationship between death anxiety and the subjective experience of time in the elderly". Int. J. Aging Hum. Dev. , 21, 197210.
38. Raudenbush S. W.,, & Bryk A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA, USA: Sage.
39. Raudenbusch S. W.,, Bryk A. S.,, Cheong Y. F.,, Congdon R. T.,, & du Toit M. (2011). HLM 7: Hierarchical linear and nonlinear modeling . Lincolnwood, IL, USA: Scientific Software International.
40. Roy M. M.,, Christenfeld N. J.,, & McKenzie C. R. (2005). "Underestimating the duration of future events: Memory incorrectly used or memory bias?" Psychol. Bull. , 131, 738756.
41. Russac R. J.,, Gatliff C.,, Reece M.,, & Spottswood D. (2007). "Death anxiety across the adult years: An examination of age and gender effects". Death Stud ., 3–, 549561.
42. Sarason I. G.,, & Stoops R. (1978). "Test anxiety and the passage of time". J. Consult. Clin. Psychol., 46, 102109.
43. Schneider W.,, & Shiffrin R. M. (1977). "Controlled and automatic human information processing: I. Detection, search, and attention". Psychol. Rev. , 84, 166.
44. Schwarz N. (1999). "Self-reports: How the questions shape the answers". Am. Psychol. ,, Vol 54, 93105.
45. Schwarz N.,, & Bless H., (1992). "Constructing reality and its alternatives: An inclusion/exclusion model of assimilation and contrast effects in social judgment". In Martin L. L., & Tesser A. (Eds.), The construction of social judgments (pp. 217245). Hillsdale, NJ, USA: Erlbaum.
46. Schwarz N.,, & Bless H., (2007). "Mental construal processes: The inclusion/exclusion model". In Stapel D. A., & Suls J. (Eds), Assimilation and contrast in social psychology (pp. 119142). New York, NY, USA: Psychological Press.
47. Schwarz M. A.,, Winkler I.,, & Sedlmeier P. (2013). "The heart beat does not make us tick: The impacts of heart rate and arousal on time perception". Atten. Percept. Psychophys. , 75, 182193.
48. Schwarzer R.,, & Jerusalem M., (1995). "Generalized Self-Efficacy scale". In Weinman J.,, Wright S.,, & Johnston M. (Eds), Measures in health psychology: A user’s portfolio. Causal and control beliefs (pp. 3537). Windsor, UK: NFER-NELSON.
49. Sedlmeier P. (2007). "The role of scales in student ratings". Learn. Instruct. , 16, 401415.
50. Wearden J. H., (2005). "The wrong tree: Time perception and time experience in the elderly". In Duncan J.,, Phillips L.,, & McLeod P. (Eds), Measuring the mind: Speed, age, and control (pp. 137158). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
51. Whyman A. D.,, & Moos R. H. (1967). "Time perception and anxiety". Percept. Mot. Skills , 24, 567570.
52. Winkler I.,, & Sedlmeier P. (2011). "Ist das wirklich schon wieder zehn Jahre her? Die Veränderung der Zeitwahrnehmung über die Lebensspanne [Has it really been ten years already? The alteration of time perception across life span]". Inquisitive Mind , 2. Available from:.
53. Wittmann M.,, & Lehnhoff S. (2005). "Age effects in perception of time". Psychol. Rep. , 97, 921935.
54. Wittmann M.,, Rudolph T.,, Linares Gutierrez D.,, & Winkler I. (2015). "Time perspective and emotion regulation as predictors of age-related subjective passage of time. Int. J. Environ. Res". Public Health , 12, 1602716042.
55. Zuzanek J., (2004). "Work, leisure, time pressure and stress". In Haworth J. T., & Veal A. J. (Eds., Work and leisure (pp. 123144). London, UK: Routledge.

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Timing & Time Perception — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation