Sucked into a “Facebook Hole” – Perception of Time is Altered When We’re Online
via Daily Mail:
If you’ve ever popped on to Facebook for a quick look, and then realised you’ve been there for an hour, don’t worry – scientists say it’s not your fault. Researchers have revealed that when we go online, we really do lose track of time. They say Facebook is the worst offender, and that users suffer an ‘impaired perception of time.’
‘We found evidence that Internet and Facebook related stimuli can distort time perception due to attention and arousal related mechanisms,’ the University of Kent psychologists wrote in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
‘This highlights that Facebook related stimuli lead to an overestimation of time compared to Internet related stimuli, and both Facebook and Internet related stimuli were associated with better discriminability of time compared to matched neutral stimuli.’
The team from the University’s School of Psychology found that the way people perceived time varied according to whether their internet use was specifically Facebook related or more general. The researchers concluded that Facebook-related stimuli can lead to an underestimate of time compared to general internet use, but that both lead to a distortion of time.
How they did it
In the study, Lazaros Gonidis and Dr Dinkar Sharma, monitored the responses of 44 people who were shown 20 images for varying amounts of time. Five of the images were associated with Facebook, five had more general internet associations with another ten as neutral ‘control’ images.
Those taking part had to say whether the image they had just seen had been visible for a short or long time.
The key finding was that people tended to underestimate the time they had been looking at Facebook-related images to a greater extent than other more general internet related images, but that in both cases time was underestimated. This suggests that Facebook-related images affect time by changing how we pay attention to them.
The findings are likely to have implications for future study into addictive behaviour, the team say. ‘Even though there is a wealth of research on addiction and implicit measures, the effects of addiction on time perception are still unclear.’