Have you ever felt like an experience was better because it felt like “time flew by”? Research by Aaron Sackett, assistant professor of marketing, looks to prove this area of consumer behavior. Here is what we learned from Professor Sackett about this topic:
Q. How can the sun make movies better?
A. This research examines how people’s feelings of time’s progress can influence their recollections of events they’ve just experienced. Specifically, it’s about how moments of surprise regarding how much (or little) time has passed can make people believe that they were enjoying themselves perhaps just a bit more (or less) than they actually were. If you’ve ever had a moment when you looked at your watch, or out the window at the setting sun, and thought, “where did the time go?!”, you know what I mean. You may have also had the opposite happen to you: You look at your watch and can’t believe how slow time is going (students report dull lectures as a common instance, although this surely never occurs in my own classes!). A short while back, I published a series of studies looking at how these moments of surprise influence people’s evaluations of the events that immediately preceded them. It turns out that when people experience these “time warp” moments, they reliably draw false conclusions about the events that led to them: If they feel that time “flew by,” they believe that they enjoyed themselves more (also, if they feel that time “dragged on,” they believe that they enjoyed themselves less). In other words, the exact same experience can “feel” more enjoyable if it’s followed by a moment that leads us to think, “wow, time must’ve really flown!” than if it’s not followed by such a moment of surprise. (more…)