The Psychology of Time

Philip Zimbardo: The Psychology of Time
Ted Talk

My Ted Talk topic was about the psychology of time and how it affects our daily live and what kind of people we are. Being a relatively short Ted Talk it was surprising how clear and concise the information was presented and how easy to understand the topic was. Basically what Philip was trying to convey is that people fall under 6 different categories on how they perceive time. Two being in the past where either you are focused on the positive experiences you have had or the negative. Two being in the present where one is hedonistic in nature focusing on yourself and the pleasures you get out of life in the moment and the other being a fatalistic approach to life. And finally the last two were focused on the future either striving for bigger and better things constantly or living life with a belief that life truly begins after you die.

It was a lot to take in in 6 minutes and 30 seconds, but was very easy to grasp. I think I fall somewhere in between the past negative and future dreaming types as I am always haunted by my past failures but I also seem to have an unhealthy outlook on the future just waiting for all my dreams to come true. It was actually a quite sobering video to watch.

Philip used a bunch of slides to convey his ideas and his topic although I’d definitely beg to differ that they were at all useful. I would have prefered to just see him talking the whole 6 minutes than to constantly cut away to very dated and antiquated looking slides with very cheesy colors and fonts. I feel like the visual aids he used almost dampered the presentation instead of enhancing it.

I don’t remember him asking any relevant questions per se but he did use humor a few times in the form of a quip about teen pregnancy or George Bush. The pacing did seem rushed as it seemed like he was talking very rapidly and out of breath. There certainly seemed to be a beginning and an end as to suggest a narrative if not lose one. I was definitely engaged as time has always been such a fascinating topic for me. It is so mind boggling to think about how we perceive time compared to other creatures on this planet, let alone other beings that could perhaps view time as a thing to travel through as in the 4th spacial dimension, no different than when we get into our cars and go to work or school. Imagine that!


  1. This is a very good topic. I see myself as someone who lives life to the fullest, not giving a damn about what people say about my health. Not sure what category I would fall under but i think it would be the 6th one about time. Either way, great blog.

  2. This was definitely a interesting ted talk! The idea of time has always fascinated me. I see myself as someone looking towards the future but with a constant reminder of my past. Nice find Ryan!

  3. Cool talk. I think in recent years a lot of the pop psychology/spirituality that I have been exposed to has given 100% of the weight to "being present" or "living in the now". While this is an interesting mental exercise, Zimbardo makes a good argument that there is a place for Time Perspective that incorporates all three aspects of time.

  4. Awesome talk! As for past failures, don't dwell on them too much or they will consume you. Everything in life is a learning experience. The best time to live in is the present, focusing on what you can do today to achieve a better tomorrow. But believe me, it isn't easy... I struggle daily trying to live in the present rather than the past or the future. Just know that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to right now. You have a great future ahead of you, and it will come at the right time.

  5. Time is always an interesting topic, and to categorize people according to it is an intriguing thing to do. Very informative topic,

  6. Wow, I can't say that I fall into one single category, but then again, I'm not a psychologist. I've been trying to live more in present and focus on my future rather than think about the past. The past is for learning not dwelling. Memories are great, but making new ones are equally as important. The future, to me, is what you try to shape and make for yourself, by doing the best you can in the present.


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