Science says return trips often feel quicker and shorter when they really aren't

Graham Chadwick /Allsport

People thinking back on a walk estimate that the return trip took less time than the outward leg, according to a study in the journal PLOS ONE.

The “return trip effect” is felt even when the outward and return legs actually take the same amount of time.

Ryosuke Ozawa from Kyoto University and colleagues compared a group of 20 men watching two of three prerecorded walking movies, of either an outbound trip and a return trip or two outbound trips.

Only the those watching both an outbound trip and a return trip estimated that the second took less time than the first.

The participants felt the return trip effect only when reflecting on the length after the trips.

The authors suggest that the return on a round trip may actually make us feel that time is shorter even without walking.

The return trip effect may not affect the timing mechanism itself but rather our feeling of time retrospectively.

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