Health

Flashback Friday: Why the return trip always seems shorter.

3070440421_8d662b8504_z-300x200.jpg

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

Photo: flickr/wtlphotosWe've all experienced it: you travel somewhere new, and it seems to take much longer to get there than it does to get home. What causes this so-called "return trip effect"? You might guess that it has something to do with knowing the route--on the way back, you see landmarks that help you better gauge when you're close to your destination. Well, you'd be wrong! According to this study, the return trip effect (which makes the return trip seem 17-22% shorter on average!) is seen even when people take different routes on the outward and return trips. It turns out that the return trip effect has more to do with expectations: you expect the initial trip to take less time than it does, but on the way back you adjust your expectations to be more realistic. The return trip effect: why the return trip often seems to take less time. "Three studies confirm the existence of the return trip effect: The return trip often seems shorter than the initial trip, even though the distance traveled and the actual time spent traveling are identical. A pretest shows that people indeed experience a return trip effect regularly, and the effect was found on a bus trip (Study 1), a bicycle trip (Study 2), and when participants watched a video of someone else traveling (Study 3). The return trip effect also existed when another, equidistant route was taken on the return trip, showing that it is not familiarity with the route that causes this effect. Rather, it seems that a violation of expectations causes this effect." Related content: NCBI ROFL: Time crawls when you're not having fun: feeling entitled makes dull tasks drag on.NCBI ROFL: What's more boring than waiting in line? Watching a video of waiting in line.Tired of procrastination? Try pre-crastination!

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Magazine Examples
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.