Thursday, September 01, 2011

There's no place like home

I suppose everybody has experienced this. When you go somewhere new, the trip there always seems longer than the trip home. I always thought it was because you recognize landmarks on the way back, but the science says that's not why:
Their research found that the effect was caused not by increasing familiarity with the route but because people expected the initial trip to be faster than it was, making the trip back seem shorter.

"People seem to be too optimistic about the initial trip, so it feels longer than one expects," says Niels van de Ven, a professor of psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and one of the authors of the study.

That appears to skew people's sense of what to expect on the way back "so they are happily surprised it doesn't take as long as they expected," says Anne Wilson, a researcher who studies the psychology of time at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada.
Of course, sometimes you so want to get home, that it still feels like forever on the way back too. But getting there almost always feels great. And the longer you're away, the cozier it feels to be back with your own stuff again.


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