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Why time passes more slowly while waiting: research by scientists

Anna OnishchenkoLife
Why we don't like to wait

In a world where time is of the essence, waiting can often feel unbearable. It feels like time is passing incredibly slowly. Standing in line and waiting for the results of an important event can seem like an eternity.

Scientists have long been interested in why time is perceived differently in different circumstances. Annabelle Roberts, an assistant professor of marketing at McCombs University in Texas, has studied what goes on in a person's mind when they are waiting. The results were shared with News Wise.

The need for completeness

People get a sense of satisfaction and peace of mind when they get a result. The need for completion not only affects people's perception of time, but also their values, priorities, and behavior.

A study was conducted where subjects made several choices. The participants were willing to lose extra resources to get the result earlier.

For example, the respondents would pay $1 more if it allowed them to pay earlier and not think about the payment anymore. Or they decided that it was better to do 15% more work for the same pay when they could finish the job earlier and cross it off their to-do lists.

Impatience

The need to get results as soon as possible provokes impatience. When we don't expect anything, we can be distracted. But when we are waiting for something, we are constantly thinking about when it will finally happen, and this slows down our perception of time.

In addition, the suffering from waiting increases as it gets closer to the end.

Whether we're waiting for a bus or the results of an election, our anxiety peaks when we're nearing the finish line. The study showed that even those who were already convinced that their presidential candidate would not win were impatient, anxious, bored, and wanted to hear the results as soon as possible. It also demonstrates well the desire for closure and how it affects human feelings.

In the end, Roberts recommended not to raise expectations. It is better to prepare yourself for a longer wait than a shorter one. This way, there is a higher probability that you will get the result before you start to suffer from impatience.

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