Why does the week before your vacation seem longer when you're going far away?

Jul 17, 2012

Consumer decision-making is affected by the relationship between time and spatial distance, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"We often think about time in various contexts. But we do not realize how susceptible our judgment of time is to seemingly irrelevant factors like spatial distance," write authors B. Kyu Kim (University of Southern California), Gal Zauberman (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania), and James R. Bettman (Duke University).

Imagine that you are in New York today and will be in a different city in one month. Will your judgment of how long that month seems differ depending on where you will be in one month? For instance, will one month in the future seem longer if you expect to be in Los Angeles rather than Philadelphia? should be aware that spatial distance influences judgment of future time and can impact our decisions.

The authors asked consumers to imagine visiting a today and a bookstore in three . Some were told that the distance between the post office and the bookstore was long, while others were told it was short. When the distance was long, consumers perceived the same three month period to be longer. Similarly, consumers who imagined moving far away when they retire felt their retirement was farther away in time than those who imagined moving near their current location.

These perceptions can affect how patient we are when making choices. Because is more attractive, consumers often impatiently opt for inferior but instantly available options over superior choices that require waiting.

"It is hard to realize that our impatient behavior can be influenced by spatial distances. So pay attention when making a decision. Spatial distances can change your of future time and make you impatient," the authors conclude.

Explore further: A two generation lens: Current state policies fail to support families with young children

More information: B. Kyu Kim, Gal Zauberman, and James R. Bettman. "Space, Time, and Intertemporal Preferences." Journal of Consumer Research: December 2012.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Early product launches: How will consumers respond?

Apr 19, 2011

A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research explains why consumers often indicate they are willing to pay more for a product that is not yet available—but are reluctant to pay that price when the product is ultima ...

Recommended for you

Scholar tracks the changing world of gay sexuality

Sep 19, 2014

With same-sex marriage now legalized in 19 states and laws making it impossible to ban homosexuals from serving in the military, gay, lesbian and bisexual people are now enjoying more freedoms and rights than ever before.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
not rated yet Jul 17, 2012
An
Ti
Ci
.
.
.
.
.
.
pation!