July 6, 2020 / 11:22 AM / a month ago

Why time feels so weird in 2020

Medical staff are seen reflected on a clock inside the provisional military hospital of the Campo Militar No. 1, which takes care of patients with symptoms of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mexico City, Mexico June 9, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The global coronavirus pandemic has heightened our awareness that time is subjective. For some people who enjoy working from home, the days have whizzed by. For others desperate to travel or visit a loved one, time has slowed to a crawl.

According to neuroscientists, there is not a single organ or system in the body responsible for timekeeping. In fact, psychologists have identified many factors that affect our sense of time, including emotions, routines and memories.

“Passage of time estimates correlate best with moods people have. If you have a good time, time flies, if you are sad, lonely, then time tracks,” said Valtteri Arstila, a philosophy lecturer at the University of Turku in Finland.

The following Reuters interactive uses a set of simple perception tests to illustrate some of the factors that can distort our sense of time in 2020.

(GRAPHIC: here Please open in an external browser.)

Reporting by Feilding Cage, Editing by Tiffany Wu

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