Time Passages

Ever go on a trip and feel like the return home was much quicker than the journey to your destination? Well, you are not alone, and this illusion is now a subject of serious scientific inquiry.

An article just published in the journal PLOS ONE establishes that this illusion is very real. Students watched video of someone who walked the streets of Kyoto to and from a destination. Those students who watched the round trip claimed the second leg took less time compared those who just watched each leg of the trip in isolation.

The authors offer no explanation for this phenomenon, although this article from Vox offers four hypotheses. A compelling one is that our brain keeps track of time in two ways…mathematically and also via the use of mental storytelling. The stories that we tell ourselves about our trips may be what are deceiving us.