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Study: Time may drag when taking a trip far away

Saturday - 7/21/2012, 1:49pm  ET

Meghin Moore, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON - To many people, the week before a vacation appears to drag on for eternity. And now a study shows that feeling tends to be better or worse depending on how far away you're traveling.

A study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that the way people perceive distance affects how they perceive the passage of time before they head off to a destination.

"We often think about time in various contexts," write the authors of the study. "But we do not realize how susceptible our judgment of time is to seemingly irrelevant factors like (spatial) distances."

The distance component even affects how people perceive the time that needs to pass before retirement: Plan to retire across the country and it might seem to take forever to kiss the office goodbye.

Perceptions of time and distance also can affect the way people make choices, because the option of going somewhere right away is much more appealing than anxiously waiting a long time.

Researchers from Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California conducted the study, focusing on the way time and distance affect people.

WTOP's Kristi King contributed to this report. Follow Kristi and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)