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Science Explains Why the Return Trip Seems Shorter, Even if We Take the Same Route

When Alan Bean was returning to Earth from a trip to the Moon, he thought that the trip back to earth was shorter. You have also probably felt the same when you’ve gotten home from a long trip. This phenomenon has happened to many of us and scientists finally have an answer.

We at Bright Side were very curious about this occurrence and decided to share with you what we learned about it.

Even if we take a different route, it still feels shorter.

At first, scientists believed that the “return trip effect” was actually due to familiarity. Since we already passed the same road, we are aware of our surroundings, and so when returning home, it doesn’t affect the feeling of time. However, this didn’t end up being true, after all the same effect has been noticed in air travel, as well as when taking a different route.

This is the way our body measures and experiences time.

It’s not about measuring the time that passes, but about the judgment we have for time based on our memory. During the journey, we don’t feel the difference in how time has passed, but once it’s over it seems like the return trip was shorter than the other.

Also, when we are leaving home we usually have a plan about what time we should arrive at our destination. This makes us pay attention to time and check the clock more often, which gives the sensation that time is not passing.

We are too optimistic about the trip.

When we go on a journey and we feel excited about it, it creates the feeling like it took too long to get there. So, when we get ready to go back home, we think that it will also take a long time, but now the circumstances are different, because we don’t feel the same amount of joy. The feeling of expectation drives us to think it takes longer to reach our destination, compared to when we go back home.

We might feel the same effect while watching a video.

For their last experiment, scientists wanted to see if we felt the same effect when watching a video. So they played 2 videos of the same person riding a bike. Both of them were 7 minutes long and the participant of the experiment had to watch them and see if they could feel the “return trip effect.” The results: Yes, they did, they still felt that the bicyclist arrived home faster.

Have you experienced this event in your life? Did it happen when taking the same or a different route? Did you feel it when you were on foot, driving, or on a plane?

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