We all know that time flies when you’re having fun. In a previous blog entry, I pointed out that when you are involved in something engaging the time seems to rocket by, even though that same event may feel long when you look back on it. The flip side, of course, is that boring events seem to drag on. A one-hour history lecture can seem longer than the entire era being described.
An interesting paper in the October 2011 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin by Edward O’Brien, Phyllis Anastasio and Brad Bushman explores the role of your sense of entitlement on the perception of the passage of time.
The basic idea is straightforward. At any given time, everyone feels some sense of entitlement. Standing in the check-out line at a big box retailer, you might feel particularly entitled to better service. So, a 10-minute wait for a slow cashier may feel like an hour. On the other hand, if you were sitting in a waiting room at the White House before having a chance to meet the President, you might consider yourself lucky to be there. In that case, a 10-minute wait might not feel so long.
In one study, the authors just looked at the correlation between people’s general sense of entitlement and their perception of time. There is a difference between people’s feelings of entitlement in general. Some people generally feel that they deserve to get things from the world than other people.