We all know how to measure the
time. After a certain age, anybody with a sound mind can easily answer what does
a year, month, day, or hour represent. Still everyone’s perception of a
specific time period is unique. We have just done with a year and started a new
one. Even though we all calculate how many months, days, hours does a year
comprised of in exactly the same way, for some the previous year elapsed very
fast, for others it took forever. Just because we all measure time through our
accomplishments. When we are talking to someone we like, or occupy with
something we enjoy, time elapses faster. On the way round, the day never ends
if we are working on something we perceive as boring. Likewise, we check our
watch very often and think that time is not running out during a meeting that we
attended unwillingly. Our perception about time does not depend solely on the
task we attend. Our characteristics also have an impact on how we perceive the
time. While some people can make relevant estimations about time through
keeping in mind the interest they are going to acquire at the end of the task, for
the ones who are impulsive it is not that easy to do this. For those impulsive
ones, time elapses very slow all the time. For this reason, they are identified
as “impatient” by others. Peoples’ decisions and preferences are influenced by
their perception of time. Typically people desire to reach the outcomes sooner.
Even so, some may postpone their desires with the idea of reaching them at last.
So, this situation canalizes impulsive people to go towards more attainable and
short term goals.


Throughout our life time, we
continually make decisions between long term goals and short term goals. A
small reward on the short run or a big reward on the long run? That’s the
question. Making decisions according to timing is very important on business
life. Come to think of that you have two options, one is gaining money in short
run, and the other is gaining much more money on the long run. Which one would
you prefer? Experts argue that, in order for an efficient functioning, in the
face of a stimuli that they consider to make them happy immediately, people
should postpone their responses and stay persistent on the goal directed
behaviors for good results in the future (Zimbardo and Byod 1999). In our
choices, the primary parameters are certainty and risklessness. Yet the
secondary parameter is the time interval that elapses until reaching the goal.
It has a trivializing effect on the long term goals. This effect is more
profound on people who are impulsive, impatient. The ability of being patient
rather than trying to get satisfaction immediately is defined as willpower.

The effect of time on decision
making, and our perception of time are all related to neuronal activity in our
brains. Perception of time is related to the frontal region of our brain. In
people who perceive time longer and pursue short term rewards, and other
people, different areas of the brain become activated. Lack of sleep and
alcohol consumption make us perceive time as longer and take snap decisions.
Likewise, our emotions influence our decisions from time to time. Depression
and anxiety slow down our perception of time. Time seems as if not running. A
day which you feel unhappy, stressed, or upset does not pass by. Even a five
minute wait just before an exam or a presentation seems like a year for an
anxious person. Perceiving that the time is running so slowly stresses people
out. And stress makes people prompt to make quick decisions, to choose the
short run goals and sort of coming up to wrong decisions. Especially when we
pay our full attention to thinking about the time, we start to perceive the
time longer and longer. Time does not elapse and the day never come to an end.

The time runs out according to our perception about it.
When we are making decisions, and selections we ground them on our perception
of time. We can reconsider lots of things and reevaluate our decisions in the
light of these information. Have we decided to work here in order not to wait
anymore? Do we feel like our working hours are so long? Is the time not running
out while talking to him or her? Was the year, we have just done with, really
comprised of 365 days?

Dr. Bengi Semerci