Living Life In 3-Second Frames

How 3 Seconds Can Define the Present Moment

Living Life In 3-Second Frames - How 3 Seconds Can Define the Present Moment

During the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, Developmental psychologist Emese Nagy of the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom decided to research the time length of 188 hugs between athletes from 32 nations. By analyzing frame-by-frame video recordings Nagy found that on average, each hug, whether it was with a coach, teammate, or rival lasted about 3 seconds. While interesting, the results of this research are not surprising. Since 1911, cross-cultural studies have shown that people tend to operate in 3-second frames. This applies to goodbye waves, musical phrases, infant’s babbles and gestures, and even physiological events like relaxed breathing. Furthermore, it’s not only humans that seem to move in 3-second increments. In 1994, a study of zoo animals found that the duration of their movements, including chewing and defecating, was also 3 seconds on average. Nagy believes that the compilation of broad research may suggest that life on Earth experiences the world in 3-second time frames. And today, many psychologists believe that intervals of 3-seconds are basic temporal units of life that define our perception of the present moment, and make up the foundation of our conscious experience. Neuroethologist Geoffrey Gerstner of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor states “rhythm has fundamentally shaped humans’ biological and social evolution.” For example, if our basic temporal unit were 10 milliseconds, than we would react more quickly to incoming stimuli: “bullets would be as frightening to us as somebody throwing a ball at us.”

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