Time perception as a social indicator

Date of publication: December 1, 1978


This paper deals with the concept of time perception and with specific research carried out to assess and measure some of the problems related to the temporal orientation of a city. Unlike chronological time, which is based on a universal, independent-of-life concept of time, the subjective perception of time is a cultural phenomenon based on the awareness and feelings that different people, groups and communities manifest in relation to the flow and duration of time. The research was conducted in 1977 on a sample of 259 adult citizens of Palermo. The technique adopted was the Semantic Differential, to find out the cognitive meaning of several concepts, including "the past", "the present" and "the future". Measurements of the direction of judgements, their intensity and their distances from other concepts provided a sufficiently broad framework for an analytical approach to the problems.

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