Time perception may vary depending on one’s surroundings. Four studies examined whether time feels slower in nature compared to urban settings. Participants viewed images of nature or urban settings (Study 1), viewed a video of a walk through a forest or city via virtual reality headsets (Study 2), imagined themselves walking down a forest path or a city street (Study 3), and actually walked by a river or through campus tunnels (Study 4). Time perception was measured through subjective duration estimates (Study 1, 2, 3, 4) and objective duration estimates in minutes/seconds (Study 1, 2, 4). Across studies, the surroundings affected time estimates. Participants estimated the objective duration (Study 4) and subjective duration (Study 2, 3, 4) of the nature stimuli as significantly longer than urban stimuli. This research contributes to both time perception and environmental literature and may be applied in everyday time management.
Keywords: time perception; nature; stress.