The Secret Powers of Time - Philip Zimbardo

Posted on June 10th, 2014

Renowned psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo explains how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being.

Different Time Zones

  • Past-positive: focus is on the “good old days”, past successes, nostalgia, etc.

  • Past-negative: focus on regret, failure, all the things that went wrong.

  • Present-hedonistic: living in the moment for pleasure and avoiding pain, seek novelty and sensation.

  • Present-fatalism: life is governed by outside forces, “it doesn’t pay to plan.”

  • Future: focus is on learning to work rather than play.

  • Transcendental Future: life begins after the death of the mortal body.

Pace of Life

Sense of duration - how much time has expired while you have been doing X or while you are having fun.

Different cultures and even cities have a different pace of life (high and low).

In cities with the highest pace of life, men have the most coronary problems.

We all begin as present hedonists, we want pleasure and we want to avoid pain.

Recent polls show that many people in America sacrifice their friends, family, and sleep for their success. Even if there was an eight day of the week, many people chose to work even harder that day to become more successful.

A study twenty years ago showed that only 60% of Americans said that they have regular sit-down family with their family. A study in 2009, showed that only 20% of Americans have regular sit-down dinner with their family.

Digitally Rewired Brains

In America, a child drops out of school every nine seconds. Worse for minority backgrounds and worse for boys. A recent study shows that by the time the boy is 21-years-old, he spent at least 10 thousand hours playing video games alone. They don’t learn enough social skills and they live in the world that they create (digital world, World of Warcraft).

Analog classrooms are boring as kids spend time in analog classrooms consuming knowledge without much interaction.

People underestimate the power of technology in rewiring people’s brains.

There is a revolution in perception of time. Waiting is waste of time (booting a computer and downloading files).


All addictions are addictions of present hedonism: food, sex, drugs, gambling, etc..

All of our propaganda, educational messages, and public relations messagesare designed for future oriented kids.

Future oriented kids can identify the problem and stop their behavior to avoid the consequences.

Present oriented kids know the future consequences but that knowledge never feeds back to change their behavior.

Visual Summary

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