F.J. van Zuuren
- Doing time: a qualitative study on time perception during detention
- Netherlands Journal of Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 68 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Background: In Western society there seems to be an obligation for people to make the most of their time. Against this background, we are interested in how persons with obliged idleness and restricted freedom (here: persons in detention) experience time. Our research questions are: what are the most prominent aspects of time perception during detention, and which factors are related to these aspects?
Methods: In-depth interviews were held with twenty prisoners and analysed qualitatively.
Results: Most respondents experience their time in prison as unbearable, slow, and ‘snatched away’. With regard to the past, worrying and problems with long-term memory prevail. Only the future can be viewed with positive anticipation.
Conclusion: Passing the time in detention is a heavy and unpleasant task that poses a serious problem for the prisoner. It would be interesting to compare these results with persons in similar situations such as psychiatric institutions and homes for the elderly, and contrast these with people in their busy daily lives.
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