You're having fun when time flies: the hedonic consequences of subjective time progression

Psychol Sci. 2010 Jan;21(1):111-7. doi: 10.1177/0956797609354832. Epub 2009 Nov 30.


Seven studies tested the hypothesis that people use subjective time progression in hedonic evaluation. When people believe that time has passed unexpectedly quickly, they rate tasks as more engaging, noises as less irritating, and songs as more enjoyable. We propose that felt time distortion operates as a metacognitive cue that people implicitly attribute to their enjoyment of an experience (i.e., time flew, so the experience must have been fun). Consistent with this attribution account, the effects of felt time distortion on enjoyment ratings were moderated by the need for attribution, the strength of the "time flies" naive theory, and the presence of an alternative attribution. These findings suggest a previously unexplored process through which subjective time progression can influence the hedonic evaluation of experiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention*
  • Attitude
  • Awareness*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Music
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Perceptual Distortion*
  • Philosophy*
  • Problem Solving
  • Set, Psychology
  • Social Behavior
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult