Experience Sampling Methodology reveals similarities in the experience of passage of time in young and elderly adults

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2015 Mar;156:77-82. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.01.006. Epub 2015 Feb 19.


Many people accept the idea that time seems to pass more quickly as they get older, as if this is a psychological reality. However, systematic investigations of differences in judgments of passage of time between young and elderly people are very rare and contradictory. The present study examined the experience of passage of time in daily life in young and elderly people using Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM), with 8 alerts per day for 5 days being delivered by smartphones. At each alert, a short questionnaire was filled in, asking questions about passage of present time, affective state, arousal level, and attention to current activities, among others. Our ESM study found no difference between the young and the old participants in the judgment of passage of present time. Irrespective of the participants' age, the experience of passage of time in every-day life was significantly related to affective states and current activities when they captured attention.

Keywords: Aging; Experience Sampling Methodology; Passage of time; Time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Arousal
  • Attention
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult