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Distance just a matter of perception


Toronto, April 12 :

Why is it that we find the initial hours of a journey longer than the final stretch?

The answer, according new research: because we consider the places ahead of us to be physically nearer than those behind, though the actual distance may be the same.

“Feeling close to or distant from something impacts our behaviour and judgment,” said Sam Maglio, an assistant professor at University of Toronto Scarborough, who led the team of researchers.

The researchers used everyday locations, events and objects such as subway stations, lottery draws, and Starbucks drinks to ascertain how people judged time-distance.

The feeling of closeness occurred regardless of whether events were good or bad, according to the study.

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.

This research could potentially impact business, such as retail.

“Firms that induce a sense of orientation towards the customer might be able to create psychological closeness and connection,” Maglio said.

The research was supported by a grant from the VPR Research Competitiveness Fund at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

The findings of the research have appeared in the latest edition of the journal ‘Psychological Science’.