Andrew Crompton at Manchester University, UK, wanted to see how good we are at judging distances in the real world.
asked 140 architecture students in their first, second and third years
of study to estimate the distance from the university’s student-union
building to familiar destinations along a straight road, so the length
of journeys that they would have strolled (or staggered) many times.
more times students had walked the route, the further they estimated
the journey to be. First year students, for example, estimated a
mile-long path to be around 1.24 miles on average, while third year
students stretched it to 1.45 miles. Crompton publishes his results in Environment and Behavior1.
results match those from other studies in which, for example, people
moving through a virtual world tend to overestimate how far they have
The finding backs the idea that
distances elongate in our minds because, over time, we begin to notice
more and more minutiae about a route, an idea called the
feature-accumulation theory. "As detail accumulates, the distance seems
to get bigger," Crompton says.
Here is the full story. Remember the earlier result that if you are going and returning only once, the ride back seems shorter. Furthermore life speeds up as you get older. There is no contradiction across these results, if you hold all ceteris paribus, but my subjective time clock will admit to being confused. Thanks to the still-excellent www.geekpress.com for the pointer.