We’ve all experienced the weird phenomenon of a trip home feeling like it takes half the time of the trip out. The Washington Post took a look at the science of the “return trip effect” to figure out exactly why that is.
Photo by Blende57
There are a couple of possible reasons for the “return trip effect”, including the simple fact that we tend to pay more attention to time passing when we’re paying attention to time itself. When we’re distracted from that, like when we’re seeing new things on a trip out, time seems to move faster. The Washington Post points out that if you want time to feel like it’s moving faster, pay more attention:
This idea is certainly present in old adages — “a watched pot never boils” and “time flies when you’re having fun.”‘ It also helps to explain the phenomenon of time seeming to slow down when our lives are at risk. This also apparently happens in our memory: When we devote more attention to a period of time, we tend to remember that period of time as being longer.
This leads to an interesting idea: That by “mindful,” or paying attention to the here and now, we can actually slow the brain’s perception of time and make our lives seem longer.
It’s certainly not a new idea, but it’s a nice explanation for a weird feeling we’ve all had.
The science behind why the return-trip always feels shorter than the trip there [The Washington Post]