Time is tricky. Although it is constant, there are times when we feel like time is running so fast or running too slow, and with a new experiment done by a couple of scientists, they have proven that time does indeed seem to run slow in certain circumstances, such as when you feel guilty of concealing something.

Perception of Time

The research paper entitled "Time Passes Slowly When You Are Concealing Something," which is published in the scientific journal "Biological Psychology," is authored by Japanese scientists Izumi Matsuda, an associate professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, and Hiroshi Nittono, a professor at Osaka University.

According to Science Direct, the research paper gives scientific evidence that people's perception of time changes.

Specifically, the scientists focused on how people would see time when they are guilty of taking something and concealing the object, and based on the paper's conclusion, there is evidence that the feeling of guilt and trying to hide the stolen object makes people feel like the clock's hand is slowly ticking away.

"You may have had an experience where you got nervous and wanted to escape from the situation when you attempted to deceive the other players in a card game, for example. In such a case, you might have felt that time passed slowly," said Matsuda and Nittono.

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How the Study was Conducted

For the study, the professors acquired the help of 36 volunteers, a mixture of graduate and undergraduate students.

To start with the experiment, the scientists asked the subjects to steal something from the laboratory and then hide it until the end of the experiment.

Moreover, the scientists encouraged the volunteers by giving them a 500 Yen voucher if they can successfully conceal the items until the experiment's conclusion.

Soon after, the participants were seated in front of a computer and were shown images of various items that would repeatedly appear on the screen along with the question "Did you steal this?"

There are two groups of conditions: the "guilty" and the "innocent" conditions.

In the guilty condition, the concealed items were among the set of images included, while in the innocent condition, the items were not part of the images.

After the images appeared, they would have to estimate how long each picture was shown.

The Polygraph Technique

For the whole duration of the task with the computer, the duo would monitor the volunteer's physiological arousal using skin conductance sensors, which is based on a polygraph technique known as the "concealed information test."

According to PsyPost, this technique is designed to detect a person's knowledge of a crime.

Based on the experiment, the duo found that the participants had stronger physiological arousal when the item they stole was presented on the screen and that the duration time of when the object was projected on the screen was longer compared to the innocent condition.

"When you are concealing something, you will feel that time passes more slowly than usual because you are in an aroused and highly vigilant state. Not only the very thing to be concealed but also other items are perceived as lasting longer than usual during this state," the scientists concluded.

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Written by: Nhx Tingson

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