Washington: Researchers have suggested that a person`s physical orientation in space makes the second hour of a voyage seem shorter than the first to him or her.
In a series of six studies, Sam Maglio, an assistant professor in University of Toronto Scarborough`s Department of Management, demonstrated that a person`s orientation - the direction they are headed - changed how they thought of an object or event.
Maglio explained that feeling close to or distant from something impacts our behavior and judgment and we feel more socially connected, more emotionally engaged, and more attuned to the present when something is perceived as close.
What we don`t know is what leads to a feeling of closeness, he said. Previous studies have focused on changing objective measures, such as distance or time, to make something feel subjectively close or far.
But people move around their environments, constantly going closer to some things and farther from others, Maglio said.
"We wanted to see if this movement changed how people perceived their surroundings," he said.
Using everyday locations and objects such as subway stations, lottery draws, and Starbucks drinks, Maglio and Evan Polman (University of Wisconsin-Madison) found that people heading in a certain direction considered the places ahead to be physically nearer than those behind, although the actual distance was the same.
People also felt events that occurred in the direction they were headed happened more recently and that those events would be more likely to occur.
Interestingly, the feeling of closeness occurred regardless of whether events were good or bad. Strangers who were coming towards participants were thought to be more similar to themselves than when those same strangers were headed away.
Maglio said the research supports previous findings showing that something that feels close in one way, such as physical distance, will also feel close in time, probability, and social similarity.
That`s why a phrase such as `A long time ago in a distant land` makes more intuitive sense than in a nearby land, he added.
The research is forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science.