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« Dilatation du temps » – Notre perception du temps s’est ralentie

Comment la pandémie et l’isolement social ont changé notre perception du temps qui passe.

Au début de la pandémie, la majorité des personnes confinées chez elles ont déclaré qu’elles avaient l’impression que le temps avançait plus lentement et qu’elles se sentaient donc seules.

Selon un article du magazine la science avance, La[{ » attribute= » »>COVID-19 pandemic has altered how individuals perceive the passing of time.

The majority of research participants (65%) reported feeling that time was moving more slowly at the conclusion of the first month of social isolation, which occurred in May 2020. This perception was termed by the researchers as “time expansion,” and they discovered that it was linked to feelings of isolation and a lack of enjoyable activities throughout the time period.

Even more people (75%) said they didn’t experience as much “time pressure,” which is the sensation that time is passing more quickly and leaving less time for activities of daily living and recreation. 90% of those surveyed claimed they were taking shelter at home during that time.

“We followed the volunteers for five months to see if this ‘snapshot’ of the start of the pandemic would change over time. We found that the feeling of time expansion diminished as the weeks went by, but we didn’t detect significant differences with regard to time pressure,” André Cravo, first author of the article, told Agência FAPESP. Cravo is a professor at the Federal University of ABC in São Paulo state, Brazil.

The research started on May 6, when 3,855 participants recruited via social media responded to a ten-item online questionnaire and completed a simple task meant to test their ability for short interval estimation (pressing start and stop buttons in 1, 3, and 12 seconds). They were then questioned about their daily activities the week before (including whether they had finished all required tasks and how much time they had set aside for leisure) as well as how they were feeling right now (happy, sad, lonely, etc).

“They were invited to return every week for further sessions, but not everyone did,” Cravo said. “In the final analysis, we considered data for 900 participants who answered the questionnaire for at least four weeks, albeit not all consecutively.”

Using time awareness scales from 0 to 100 that are standard for this type of survey, the researchers analyzed the answers and calculated the two parameters – time expansion and time pressure – to see whether they increased or decreased week by week.

“Besides a rise or fall on the scales, we also analyzed the factors that accompanied the changes. During the five-month period, we observed a similar pattern: in weeks when participants reported feeling lonely and experiencing less positive affect, they also felt time pass more slowly. In highly stressful situations, they felt time pass more quickly,” Cravo said.

When the first set of answers to the question on the passage of time was compared with the second, provided at the end of the first month of confinement, perceptions of time expansion had risen 20 points while time pressure had fallen 30 points, according to Raymundo Machado, a scientist at the Brain Institute of the Albert Einstein Jewish Hospital (HIAE) in São Paulo, and last author of the article. “These results are evidently affected by memory bias, however, because no measurements were made before the pandemic,” he said.

Time slowed most for younger participants early in the pandemic, when compliance with social distancing rules was strictest. Except for age, demographic factors such as household size, occupation, and gender, had no influence on the results.

For the authors, this may be an effect of the sample profile. Most of the volunteers (80.5%) lived in the Southeast region. A large majority were women (74.32%). Most had completed secondary school, and a great many even had a university degree (71.78%). In terms of income, roughly a third were upper middle class (33.08%). Sizable minorities worked in education (19.43%) and healthcare (15.36%).

“This is typical of online surveys, where a majority are women living in the Southeast with high levels of formal education. The influence of demographics might have been more evident if the sample had represented the Brazilian population better,” Machado said.

Internal clock

Although the pandemic changed participants’ perceptions of the passage of time, it apparently did not affect their ability to sense duration, measured by the button-pressing task. “All of us are able to estimate short intervals. When the results of this time estimation test [including overestimation and underestimation of the intervals] Ils ont été comparés aux résultats de la conscience du temps, et il n’y avait aucune corrélation », a déclaré Machado.

Selon Cravo, les preuves de la littérature scientifique indiquent que le sentiment que le temps passe plus lentement ou plus vite est principalement influencé par deux facteurs : l’importance du temps dans un contexte donné et son imprévisibilité. Par exemple, si vous êtes en retard au travail [so that time is relevant in the context] Et je dois attendre le bus [unpredictable timing]Vous avez la perception extrême que les minutes ne passent pas. Lorsque vous êtes en vacances et que vous vous amusez, ce n’est pas le moment et cela semble juste voler.

La perception change souvent lorsque nous nous souvenons de situations passées. « Quand tu te souviens de ce que tu as fait pendant tes vacances, le temps semble avoir duré plus longtemps. Au contraire, quand tu fais la queue, le temps passe très lentement mais quand tu te souviens de la situation plus tard, c’est comme si ça s’était terminé rapidement « , a déclaré Cravo.

Dans le cas de la pandémie de COVID-19, on ne sait pas comment les gens se souviendront du passage du temps pendant la période de distanciation sociale. « De nombreuses étapes importantes, telles que le carnaval, les festivals de juin et les anniversaires, ont dû être ignorées au cours des deux dernières années, la question reste donc ouverte », a-t-il conclu.

Référence : « Vivre le temps pendant la distanciation sociale : une étude longitudinale au cours des premiers mois de la pandémie de COVID-19 au Brésil » par André Macioli Cravo, Gustavo Brito de Azevedo, Cristiano Moraes Bellacci Azarias, Louise Catherine Barney, Fernanda Dantas Bueno et Rafael Façon. Di Camargo, Vanessa Carneiro Morita, Esau Ventura Bobo Sirius, Renan Schiavolin Recio, Mateus Silvestrin et Raimundo Machado de Azevedo Neto, 13 avril 2022, la science avance.
DOI : 10.1126 / sciadv.abj7205

L’étude a été financée par la FAPESP.

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