Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Secret Powers of Time

Renowned psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo explains how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. 
I am not sure I agree with everything that Prof. Zimbardo says in this video, but I do believe that the perspective of time differs among cultures. I recall when I first went to work in Latin America, home of "the maƱana culture," I was occasionally challenged by the difference between my sense of time and that of my friends and colleagues. The polite time to arrive for a dinner invitation was different than I expected, as was the expected start and end of a party (the only one my roommate and I threw for our neighbors lasted for three days). Sometimes things worked by the clock as I expected, and sometimes people would show up very late for an appointment and not seem to be embarrassed by having done so. On return to the USA and graduate school I wrote a paper on the phenomenon, predicting that the management of different time perspectives would be a major challenge in international organizations. So true!

I am now in my 8th decade, and I know that my perspective on time has changed with age. I now think that planning for the rest of the century makes perfect sense for many purposes. While individuals may not expect to live to see 2100, governments certainly do and businesses hope to survive that long. Planning to avoid global warming and environmental damage makes perfect sense to me.

The book mentioned in the video is A Geography Of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist by Robert V. Levine.

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