How Perception Of Time Influences Behavior and Health, RSA Animate (Video)


Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our personal perception of time affects our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we interact with the world.

Time Zones of Time Perception

So what we have discovered in 30 years of research is there are six main time zones that people live in: two focus on the past, two on the present, and two on the future.

Focusing on the Past

The people that focus on the past remember the good ole times, successes, happy birthdays, and nostalgia. These are the people who keep the family records, family books and have the family rituals.

There are other people who focus only on regret, only on failure, only on all the things that went wrong; so we call those focuses past positive or past negative.

Focusing on the Present

There are two ways to be present-oriented: the obvious one is to be hedonistic, that you live for pleasure and avoid pain; you seek knowledge, you seek sensation.

There are other people who are present-oriented because the say it doesn’t pay to plan: my life is fated, fated by my religion, fated by my poverty, fated by the conditions that I’m living under.

The closer you are to the equator the more present orientated you are; the more you’re in an environment that doesn’t change it gives you a sense of sameness rather than change.

Focusing on the Future

Most of us are here because we are future-oriented; we have learned to work rather than play, to resist temptation.

But there is another way to be future-oriented. Depending on your religion, life begins after the death of the mortal body. To be future-oriented you have to trust that when you make a decision about the future it’s going to carry up. If you have inflation you don’t put money in the bank because you can’t trust the future. If there is instability in your family, adults can’t keep their promises to you.

The Pace of Life in Relation to Health

So he has a bunch of these measures and it turns out you can identify cultures as having different paces of life, and now cities. And he shows that in America you can rank 60 cities according to high pace of life and low pace of life. The ones with the highest pace of life, men have the most coronary problems. It becomes part of your whole way of life.