New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Research Shows That Time Flies When You’re Counting Down

December 11, 2013

In a new study, Vicki Morwitz, Harvey Golub Professor of Business Leadership at the NYU Stern School of Business, and alumna Edith Shalev (Stern ’10) at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology show that counting down (i.e., 100 to one) while performing a task shortens the perceived duration of the task compared to counting up (i.e., one to 100).

Morwitz and Shalev conducted three studies where participants were asked to use a product (a hand exercise ball or an ergonomic hand grip) or count geometrical shapes on a computer screen. They found that people hold more favorable attitudes toward a product and a greater intention to buy that product after using the item and counting downward versus upward.

The researchers proposed several applications of this research, such as that people may be more likely to complete physical exercises if instructed to count downward because they feel the task is less taxing. Conversely, people who are stressed or agitated may try counting upward (e.g., counting sheep when you have trouble sleeping) to increase the perception of relaxation.

“These findings offer some insights into how to tackle public health issues like obesity or dental hygiene,” explains Morwitz. “Downward counting can shorten time perception and enhance attitudes towards important, yet monotonous, tasks and healthy behaviors such as physical exercise and teeth brushing.”

The article, “Does Time Fly When You’re Counting Down? The Effect of Counting Direction on Subjective Time Judgment,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.


Type: Article

Research Shows That Time Flies When You’re Counting Down

Search News



NYU In the News

Paying It Backward: NYU Alum Funds Scholarships

The Wall Street Journal profiled Trustee Evan Chesler on why he decided to chair the Momentum fund-raising campaign.

A Nobel Prize Party: Cheese, Bubbles, and a Boson

The New Yorker talked to Professor Kyle Cranmer and graduate student Sven Kreiss about NYU’s role in the discovery of the Higgs boson, which resulted in a Nobel prize for the scientists who predicted its existence.

The World as They Knew It

The New York Times reviewed the exhibit at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on how ancient Greeks and Romans mapped the known and unknown areas of their world.

Elite Institutions: Far More Diverse Than They Were 20 Years Ago

NYU made stronger gains over the last 20 years in increasing diversity than any other major research university, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Program Seeks to Nurture ‘Data Science Culture’
at Universities

The New York Times reported on the multi-million collaboration among NYU and two other universities to harness the potential of Big Data, including an interview with Professor Yann LeCun, director of NYU’s Center for Data Science.

NYU Footer