How Does time Perception Change As You Get Older?

4.3 based on 50 ratings

Updated on Nov 20, 2012


Social Science


Elementary School/Middle School/High School

Difficulty of Project




Safety Issues


Material Availability

Easily available from your local drugstore.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

About a day, or else 5 minutes.


To understand how time perception changes between the ages of 6 and ___ (an ending age to be determined).

  • A room without a clock and with nothing in it (no pictures, wall hangings, etc)
  • A stop watch


Being a child is like starting a book.In the first five pages of a new book, you are trying to understand what world you have entered, how the characters relate to one another, and what the writing style is.When you are a child, you encounter similar challenges, trying to understand the world around you and how to judge the people in it.This might cause time to move slower.How does time perception differ in children and adults?

Research Questions
  • How does time perception differ between children and adults?
  • Is it true that the younger the child, the more time he/she will believe has passed (in other words, is the perception a linear change based on age)?
  • Is there an age at which time perception begins to more accurately match reality?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
  • How do children perceive time?
  • How do adults perceive time?
  • How do these compare?

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather a group of subjects, ages 6 to ___ (determine an ending age).Make sure all ages in this range are represented.If you are lucky, you will have more than one person to represent every age.
  2. While you cannot control the number of people who show up to your experiment, you should make sure to note the turnout in your writeup.
  3. DO NOT TELL THESE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WILL BE DOING!!!Simply tell them you are conducting an experiment about the differences in time perception between children of different ages and adults, and tell them when and where to show up.
  4. When the participants show up, take them one at a time into a room with no distractions and no clock.Keep them there for 5 minutes.
  5. After five minutes, enter the room and ask how much time has passed.


Droit-Volet, Sylvie.Alerting Attention and Time Perception in Children.July 15, 2003.ScienceDirect.

Krulwich, Robert.“Why Does Time Fly By As You Get Older?”Feb 1, 2010.All Things Considered: NPR.

A graduate of Brandeis University, Sharon Cooper loves anything having to do with English, History, and Creative Writing. When she is not creating science fair ideas, she is translating Chaucer, writing short stories, or reading various works of literature. To discuss literature or literary experimentation, please contact Sharon at

How likely are you to recommend to your friends and colleagues?

Not at all likely
Extremely likely