Time for self

It’s Christmas and amid all of the presents, food, and holidays the spiritual meaning can easily become lost. Regardless of your “denomination” or how you label yourself Christmas offers a chance to get in touch with the things that matter to you and for you to reconnect with your values. The world has become a dreaded “24/7” rush to nowhere leaving few opportunities for reflection and understanding but at Christmas the world stops for a collective breath and in that gap you can, if you so choose, make your own reconnection. The question is of course, how do you do that? Well according to a new study you can start the process by thinking about time.

The experiment began by having subjects complete a range of tasks including word scrambles, searching for song lyrics, and counting tasks. These tasks were designed to subtly induce the subjects to think about either time, money, or something neutral.

After this initial phase the subjects worked on supposedly unrelated puzzles and reported how many puzzles they had solved at the end. The researchers incentivised the performance on these puzzles by paying for each puzzle completed based entirely on how many puzzles the subjects said they had completed. The puzzle worksheets seemed to be anonymous and were recycled at the end of the task so it was easy for the subjects to cheat. However, unknown to the subjects, each puzzle sheet had a secret numerical code so they researchers could match how many puzzles they subjects actually completed with how many they said they had completed. The researchers then correlated the tendency to cheat with whether the subjects had been primed to think about time, money, or a neutral topic.

The findings were stark. Of those primed to think about money 87.5 per cent cheated on the puzzle task. This compared to only 66.7 per cent of cheaters among those primed to think about a neutral topic and only 42.4 per cent among those primed to think about time.

It appears thinking about time makes you more likely to behave morally but that begs the question of why this should be so? Subsequent experiments have suggested that thinking about time causes people to think about how they spend their time and this in turn leads to contemplation of their life as whole and a little self-reflection.

So this festive season take some time to think about time, and in the process you just might find out what makes you tick. Have a merry, thoughtful Christmas.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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