Why does life appear to speed up as people get older?

Stephanus Janssen, Makiko Naka, William Friedman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    In this study, the influence of contemporaneous and retrospective recall of time pressure on the experience of time was examined. Participants (N = 868) first indicated how fast the previous week, month, year, and 10 years had passed. No effects of age were found, except on the 10-year interval. The participants were subsequently asked how much time pressure they experienced presently and how much time pressure they had experienced 10 years ago. Participants who indicated that they were currently experiencing much time pressure reported that time was passing quickly on the shorter time intervals, whereas participants who indicated that they had been experiencing much time pressure 10 years ago reported that the previous 10 years had passed quickly. Cross-sectional comparisons of past and present time pressure suggested that participants systematically underestimated past time pressure. This memory bias offers an explanation of why life appears to speed up as people get older.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)274-290
    Number of pages17
    JournalTime and Society
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


    • Aging
    • autobiographical memory
    • experience of time
    • time estimation
    • time pressure


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