February 01, 2012
“I can't believe we're home already."
Even though the return trip mileage is the same.
As is the traffic.
Now it even has a name:
Research has found that "the return trip effect" can make trips home seem up to 22% shorter than the initial trip.
We don't come by these statistics idly.
Niels van de Ven, one of the authors of the study, and a psychology professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, interviewed 300 people, (including homemakers taking a bus ride to a home decorating fair and students biking to an event), and arrived at this conclusion:
"People seem to be too optimistic about the initial trip, so it feels longer than one expects."
You have no such expectations coming home.
Although I didn't see anything about a trip you might dread, which would make the trip go quicker.
(Perhaps more research is required.)
All of which gets us into how we perceive time.
Anyway, if you have the time, you can review the study in depth in the August 2011 edition of the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.
It's not exactly a news flash that most governments spend significant amounts of taxpayer funds every year on projects like this.
In the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent government agency, has funded such projects as:
When did dogs become man's best friend?
Practically anyone qualified with an interesting proposal could be granted.
What would you do with the funding?
Any ideas no matter how whimsical?
(I suspect your return trip to the Eye will be here before you know it.)