In one experiment, for example, Sackett and his colleagues put a group of men and women in two rooms, each without any clocks or watches or cell phones. They had them do a timed test, in which they had to read a text and underline certain words—so not particularly fun-filled, but not particularly aversive either. The scientists told the volunteers the test would take exactly ten minutes, and made a big show of starting a stopwatch as they left the room.
But the test didn’t take exactly ten minutes. For some, the scientists reentered after just five minutes, but acted as if the full ten minutes had passed; they even left the stopwatch conspicuously in view. For others, they didn’t reenter the room until 20 minutes had passed, but again they left the volunteers with the idea that ten minutes had passed. In other words, for some ten minutes seemed surprisingly long, while for others it seemed short—the lab equivalent of making time fly.
Then all the volunteers rated the experience for enjoyment, challenge, fun, engagement, and so forth. And the results were clear: If the ten minutes passed surprisingly quickly, volunteers found the word search task more pleasurable than if time seemed to drag. This doesn’t mean they found it exhilarating, or that the others found it crushingly boring—but their subjective experiences were definitely different on the pleasure scale.But what if they had to tolerate something irritating or annoying?
In a second study, the scientists forced the volunteers to listen to a tape recording of a dot matrix printer for 30 seconds. Thirty seconds is not a long time, but apparently this was a really irritating noise. While they listened, they watched the elapsed time tick off on a screen-- except that, unbeknownst to the volunteers, the elapsing time was either too slow or too fast. So again, for some time flew, while for others time dragged.
And again, time perceptions shaped emotions. When time flew, the tedious listening experience seemed less tedious, more bearable. When it dragged, it was worse; these listeners said they would rather listen to an electric drill if given the option. They also ran the experiment with a pleasant audiotape—of a favorite song—and once again time distortions determined the pleasure of the listening experience. That is, a pleasant experience became more pleasant.Basically, our perception of time controlled our emotions. If we thought time flew, the activity became enjoyable, but if we thought time dragged by slowly, the activity suddenly became atrocious.
Talk about food for thought the next time we sit in katha or a boring sabha!
Full Story: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/onlyhuman/2009/12/savoring-passage-of-time.cfm