Every time I come across a story about time, the song "Time Is On My Side" pops into my head. The sense of having control of your own time and not letting someone else dictate it is one of the reasons I like that song. Nevertheless, many people think they don't control time. If you're one of those people who suffer from time famine, there's something positive you can do to combat the negative sense of time. According to a new study, volunteering your limited time—giving it away— may actually increase your sense of unhurried leisure.
Across four different experiments, researchers found that people’s subjective sense of having time, called "time affluence," can be increased. Compared with wasting time, spending time on oneself and even gaining a windfall of free time, spending time on others increased participants’ feelings of time affluence.
Lead researcher and psychological scientist Cassie Mogilner of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania believes this is because giving away time boosts one’s sense of personal competence and efficiency, and this in turn stretches out time in our minds. Ultimately, giving time makes people more willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.
Furthermore, psychological scientists Melanie Rudd and Jennifer Aaker of Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management devised a way to study the feeling of awe in the laboratory. Across three different experiments, they found that jaw-dropping moments made participants feel like they had more time available and made them more patient, less materialistic and more willing to volunteer time to help others.
The researchers found that the effects that awe has on decision-making and well-being can be explained by awe's ability to actually change our subjective experience of time by slowing it down. Experiences of awe help to brings us into the present moment which, in turn, adjusts our perception of time, influences our decisions and makes life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.
This research conducted by Mogilner—and co-authors Zoe Chance of the Yale School of Management and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School—is forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
BONUS: "Time Is On My Side" by The Rolling Stones
(Story materials by the Association for Psychological Science.)