How you perceive time may depend on your income - Deepstash
How you perceive time may depend on your income

How you perceive time may depend on your income

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How we perceive time

How we perceive time

The brain can stretch or compress the feeling of time. Seconds of pain can feel like minutes, and hours spent at a party can feel like a moment.

Research shows that an extra factor behind our experience of time is our income.


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The feeling of a long life

Research suggests new experiences could create more time codes in the human brain as it processes memory formation.

This could mean that people who can afford to enjoy more vacations and hobbies and have more stimulating jobs, will recall having lived for a longer time.


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Hunting for time codes

  • In the 1950s, a standard treatment for epilepsy focused on removing parts of patient's brains, which also left them unable to form new long-term memories. It suggested that memory formation and time perception are tied to the medial temporal lobe.
  • Another study found that the brain doesn't waste time memorizing moments that are dull or non-essential, but memories are created when someone engages in actions that are free, engaging, or varied.
  • Time feels forever when it is spent in a boring environment, but in retrospect, it will not be remembered in detail. However, fascinating events that flew by will be full of memories and feel longer in retrospect.


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Expanding time by creating a life rich in experiences

People tend to create internal narratives about themselves - a life full of rich and varied experiences will likely have a satisfying quality to it in retrospect. Having more control over your time can lead to more novel memories.

People from all socio-economic levels could derive enjoyment and satisfaction, for example, by painting houses or gardening. Higher-paid jobs can lead to more new experiences, but wealthy people may spend money on a fancy watch instead, which will not have the same change to the perception of time as a vacation.


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Age and subjective time

Age is also a wealth-dependent factor in how we experience subjective time. A young person's eye will jiggle regularly to take in new stimuli. As a person ages, the eye muscles grow slower, and the brain receives less input. The brain also grows accustomed to a certain amount of stimuli, and the small amount received in old age leaves a person feeling that the days are too short.

For a rich person, taking a vacation to an exotic place may slow time down for a while, but can lose its charm and feel that a day has come to an end too soon. People with less money have fewer chances and resources to escape the monotonous parts of their lives.


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