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The Secret Powers of Time

June 13, 2010

The Secret Powers of Time


Here is a fascinating talk about the effect and power of time on people. What makes this short speech by Professor Philip Zimbardo equally interesting and entertaining, is the story board animation provided by the RSA, The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts.

Having this slightly sped up time-lapse animation really adds quite a mental stimulus to the rolling speech. The artist’s rendition of the spoken words is simply fantastic and absolutely complementary.

We all at some point in our lives ponder even if for just a moment, the concept of time. After all, this notion of mechanical, man-made concept of time drives virtually every action of our lives and without it, our current world could not function as it now does. So many theories of time abound yet, this short speech is rich with amazing insight into its influence on the human condition. As I sometimes say- this one is a must see!

The animation which follows the speech is outstanding- that alone is a huge bonus! The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, per their website, has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress for over 250 years.

In the 10 minute speech, you will learn of Professor Zimbardo’s 30 years of research about the powers of time that are based on a simple premise centered on the psychological impact of time on human behavior.

Key elements are-

  • There are six possible “time zones” people live in
  • These six zones are divided into 3 groups- Past, Present, Future
  • Each group has 2 focal points or perceptions/belief’s effecting behavior


  1. Remembers the good old times, past successes etc.
  2. One is either is bent towards a positive or negative recollection of events


  1. It doesn’t pay to plan as life is fated
  2. Hedonistic, seeks knowledge, live for pleasure, avoid pain


  1. Learned to work rather than play…avoid temptation
  2. Dependent on belief, life begins after death of the mortal body

One final comment before giving away all the fun, Professor Zimbardo hits on an interesting concept about how geographical locations influence time perception and actions.

For example, those residing near the equator where there is a consistent climate, this helps to produce the effect of “sameness” rather than change. He provides some funny examples of human behavior and various lifestyles of those living in the same country but located enough distance apart to notice the impact climate creates on the perception of time.

Hope you enjoy this short clip as much as I did. This one is worth your time to view, Enjoy!

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