Does Time Fly When You’re Having Fun?

Okay, I know I just talked about the show “100 Humans” the other day, but the last episode I watched had an experiment I’d love to discuss here.

In the episode about happiness, the researchers decide to see if people perceive time differently when they’re happy. You know, the old saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

Group A was treated to a party. They had treats, music, gifts, and more. Group B, on the other hard, literally watched paint dry on a wall.

At a certain point in each gathering, a researcher blew a horn, waited 18 minutes, and blew it again. Participants then filled out a survey, which included a question about how much time passed between the two horns.

Any guesses as to the results? They may surprise you.

Group A–the party group–estimated on average that the time between the horns was 22 minutes.

Group B–the paint watchers–estimated on average that the time between horns was only 11 minutes.

What happened here?

My first thought is that party does not necessarily equal fun, particularly for introverts. It may, in fact, feel painfully long. However, a number of people in the video do actually look like they’re having fun. Also, even accounting for that, there’s still a huge difference between the times estimated by the party group and the paint group.

My second thought is that maybe the test does show that time flies when you’re having fun…just not in the way the researchers expected. Maybe the people in the party group looked back on the party with fondness, and their brains want to stretch out that happy memory. Meanwhile, perhaps it’s not that the paint group wasn’t having fun–rather, maybe they just zoned out, completely disrupting their perception of time.

Either way, those results were really interesting to me! What do you think?


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