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RSA Animate - The Secret Powers of Time

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Philip Zimbardo The Secret Powers of Time So what we have discovered in 30 years of research, there's 6 main time zones that people live in. 2 focus on the past, 2 on the present, and 2 on the future. The people who focus on the past, either remember all the good all times. Successes, happy birthdays, nostalgia... these are the people who keep the family record, the family books, who have the family rituals. There are other people who focus only on regrets. Only on failure, only on all the things that went wrong. So we call those focus Past-Positive or Past-Negative. There are two ways to be present oriented. The most obvious is to be hedonidtic. That you live for pleasure and you avoid pain. You seek knowledge, you seek sensation. There are other people who are present oriented because they say it doesn't pay the plan. My life is fated. Fated by my religion, fated by my poverty, fated by the conditions that I'm living under. Most of us are here because we're future oriented. That we have learned to work rather than play, to resist temptation. But there's another way to be future oriented. Depending on your religion, life begins after the death of the mortal body. To be future oriented you have to trust that when you make a decision about the future, it's going to be carried out. If you have great inflation, you don't put money in the bank. Because you can't trust the future. If you have instability in your family -- adults can't keep their promises to you. The closer you are to the Equator, the more present oriented you are. The more you're in an environment where climate doesn't change, it gives you a set of imagening sameness, rather than change. Protestants everywhere have higher Gross National Product than Catholic countries. In part because of the protestant ethic, because of the notion that you work hard to succeed... to demonstrate that you are God's chosen people. My family comes from Sicily, and in Italy there's a political movement called LA LEGA that cut Italy in half. North Italy and South Italy, cut it just below Tuscany. The people in the North say, we do all the work. The people in the South are lazy. They're like children, they wanna have babies, have 3 hour dinners, etc. People in South say, they're not Italian, they're German-Austrian. They eat yogurt instead of pasta. They take their lunch in a paper bag. And in a recent election the LEGA got 14 per cent of the national vote. It turns out, it's accurate. We've done research to say people in the North tend to be, on a scale much more future oriented. People in the South tend to be more past oriented or present hedonistic. And so, my family is Sicilian, and I come from Sicily. I go back every year, I started an educational foundation. We sent high school kids to college and set up computer labs. And I'm talking about some of this stuff and a man comes up and says, I'm a poet, I live with words. And it wasn't until I heard your talk that I realised there's no future tense verb in Sicilian dialiect. I said, what do you mean? There Was, Is, there's no Will Be! He said, that's why nothing gets done! And I didn't realise it because we never plan. So again, here is how when you have a number of people, who share a certain time perspective, then it does come to characterase a nation. In the same way, if you have a Catholic nation, where people tend to be present or past oriented, rather than a Protestant nation, where in general people tend to be more future oriented, it affects you in very profound ways. So there's a wonderful book called the Geography of Time, and it's writter by a dear friend of mine Robert Levine, who's a social psychologist... and he actually, literally went around the world doing wonderful experiments. He looks at what he calls the Pace of Life. See, time perspective is how people devide their own experience into partitions, time zones. Another kind of time orientation is your sense of duration. How much time has expired while you're sitting in the dentist office before they start drilling? How much time has expired when you've been waiting in line? How much time has expired when you're having fun? So time duration is totally a function of whether you're bored, whether you're excited or not. And what he does is, he shows that in different cultures, people have a different pace of life. And you do this very simply, you sit in the café and you mark up 100 meters and as people pass you start a stopwatch, and you'll see how fast people walk. You go to a post office and on a piece of paper you say, I'd like 3 pounds of this postage in Euros, and you see how long it takes. So there's a bunch of these measures, and it turns out you can identify cultures with different pace of life and now cities. And it shows in America you can rank 60 cities according to high pace of life, low pace of life. Now the ones with the highest pace of life, men have the most coronary problems. It becomes part of your whole way of life. We all begin life as present hedonists. All of us. I mean, at the breast, at the botttle, we want pleasure, we want to avoid pain. And one of the things that families do, and specially school... my sense is, the purpose of schooling is to take present oriented little beasts and make them more future oriented and some houses make them more past oriented. In America a child drops out of school every 9 seconds. This is worse for kids from a minority background, and it'worse for boys than girls. There is actually a disaster recipe developing among boys in America, literally dropping out of high school, college.... and it's not simply poor performance. One of the problems is a recent study shows that by the time a boy is 21, he's spent at least 10,000 hours playing video games alone. Probably more, watching pornography alone. And you put that together it means. A: they haven't learned social skills - emotional and social intelligence. But it also means that they live in a world that they create. They're playing warcraft, they're playing these other ganes, which is exciting. In fact, I just heard the other day that these game companies are now gonna develop 3D games. So that the world will be all around you. Their bains are being digitally rewired. Which means they will never fit in a traditional classroom, which is analog. Somebody talks at you without even the nice pictures.... meaning, it's boring. Meaning you control nothing, you sit there passively. And if you want to change the curriculum, I undesrtand the traditionalists here say, we've got go back to Reading, Writing, Arithmetic. Disaster. These kids will never fit in to that. They have to be in a situation where they are controlling something, and school is set up so you control nothing. You're passive. School is all about learning delayed gratification, literally endlessly. All addictions are addictions of present hedonism. Food, sex, drugs, gambling, etc. All of our propaganda, all of our educational messages, all of our public relations messages are: designed for future-oriented kids -- who's not the problem. They tell you: here's the negative consequences of doing what you're doing. Future oriented kids know that -- They don't do it. Present oriented kids know the future consequences. If you're a teenage girl you know that if you have unprotected sex, you are likely to get pregnant or have a sexually transmitted disease. You know it -- but that knowledge never feeds back to change of behaviour. That's the interesting thing about time perspective. I think we are underestimating the power of technology in rewiring young people's brains. Kids don't wear wrist watches -- they say it's a single function device. You don't waste time with a single function device. And they live in a digital thing in what matters is the second. I didn't mentioned one of the things that gets upset in America is how long it takes to boot up your computer and how long it takes to download something less than a minute. That makes people angry. So it becomes an emotionality, you get angry waiting in line waiting for services Waiting is a waste of time even if it's waiting for your computer to boot up. So I think it is a fundamental change going on in our culture that I think we adults are not realizing that kids are totally defferent than we were And it's because it is revolution in time. There was a recent study we did with USA Today asking americans how busy they are? The vast majority of americans (more than 50%) said "I am busier now then I was last year, I'm busier last year than I was previous year. And I sacrifice friends, family and sleep for my success." This is across the board, not separating by future And than we said: "Suppose you had an 8 day week what would you do?" The answers was great: they would spend most of the time working harder, achieving more. Not with friends, not with family and not even sleeping. They did that study 20 years ago and I was upset again from this .. background Only 60% of americans sayd they have regular sit-down family dinners. When we did this study last year only one in five american families have sit-down dinners together. In America we talk about family values You can't have family values if you never have family meals together I think many of life puzzlez can be solved by simple understanding of our own time perspective and that of others. Lots of conflicts we have with people really a conflict with different time perspective. Once you aware than you stop making negative attributions like "you're dumb" or "you're childish" or "you're pig-headed" or "you're authoritarian" It's really the most simple idea in the world

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 8 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: Animated
Producer: RSA
Director: RSAnimate
Views: 785
Posted by: aviatorone on Sep 5, 2011

Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world.

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