Be Less Stupid — September 18, 2013 at 12:05 PM

People Awful at Estimating Time




According to new research conducted by This vs That, just 17% of people can accurately estimate the passage of time.

This experiment was conducted on Saturday, September 7th, 2013. This vs That gathered 53 people (ages 20-50) in a hotel conference room, sat them in chairs – arranged in rows. Participants were asked to close their eyes until they were instructed to open them. Prior to closing their eyes, participants were told they would be asked to estimate how long they had just sat quietly.

At the end of the 2 minutes and 50 seconds, participants were asked to write down their time estimates on a piece of paper and hand them in.

To See ALL 6 one-hour HD episodes of This vs That, click the chart above.:


According to This vs That’s analysis, just 17% of experiment participants were able to accurately estimate the amount of time they sat quietly, with just nine (9) of them estimating between 2:45 and 3:00 minutes. It should be noted that NO ONE estimated precisely. The largest percentage of people estimated they were sitting quiet for between 1:00 and 2:00 minutes, with the second highest being those people who estimated 2:00 minutes exactly.  The estimates of 13% of participants ranged between 4:00 and 6:00 minutes.

“the brain’s perception of time involves processes linked to memory and attention: witness the impression that time is passing more quickly when we are busy, or doing something amusing or exciting. Time flies even when we are in love. In contrast, a watched pot never boils. Minutes drag by when we are bored.”

The Guardian

This vs That’s initial research is in line with previous research into time estimation, which has revealed that our ability to accurately estimate time is influenced by our emotional state, how hungry we are, how tired we are, whether our eyes are open or closed, what we are doing, among many other factors.


Would you like to participate in a follow up to our time estimation experiment? It will be done over Skype and won’t take long. If so, send us your contact information ASAP.

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