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First results of the "Confined time" study released in Blursday, a resource to understand our perception of time during lockdown

​The participative study on our time perception during the confinement, led by Virginie van Wassenhove (NeuroSpin) in collaboration with Inserm, CNRS and several international institutions and universities, provides the first open database, Blursday, which analyzes the nature of the alterations in our relationship to time during physical and social distancing, as we experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. A major study confirming that our perception of time is plastic. 

Published on 19 September 2022


The Covid-19 pandemic and the associated distancing and containment measures dramatically altered our living conditions, social interactions, and psychological, physiological, and economic well-being. Soon, the cultural phenomenon of "Blursday" was evoked by the Anglo-Saxon media to refer to the blurring of the identity of days and the calendrical fusion experienced during this historic period. The international study led by Virginie van Wassenhove was initiated in France in March 2020 (see our news on the call for participants) and has expanded thanks to the help of some thirty researchers internationally to finally analyze the lived temporalities of more than 2800 participants collected in 9 different countries.
The test battery, developed by an international team of experts representative of research on the psychology of time (Timing Research Forum), collected data at the peak of the confinement periods with a longitudinal follow-up from a few weeks to a few months afterwards. The scope of the study is unprecedented in that it integrates 15 behavioral tasks (performance measures of cognitive and temporal processes), 14 questionnaires (psychological traits, well-being, mental states, self-reports), demographic and containment assessment data (measures of state during and outside of containment) for each individual. The first results were published last August in Nature Human Behavior.


Among the results, the study shows that the feeling of isolation significantly slows down the time experienced so that participants report a slower time flow. Similarly, the more isolated participants felt, the greater their subjective distances to events in their past and future appeared to be long. The researchers also found that participants systematically overestimated times less than 15-20 minutes but underestimated times greater than 15-20 minutes. This bias in the perception of time intervals on the minute scale was less pronounced during confinement than outside of confinement.
The Blursday database and all data collection tools are now available to researchers to study the effects of social isolation on temporal information processing. Blursday also includes quantitative statistics such as sleep patterns, personality traits, psychological well-being, and indices of isolation. The study leaders invite the scientific community to explore this resource with their own question. Further, more refined analyses of the data are also underway.


A consortium of researchers provides the first database, accessible to the scientific community, to study the nature of the altered perception of time experienced by many people during the confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It shows that the sense of isolation may have led to a slowing of the flow of time during this period. To be continued…

Contact : Virginie van Wassenhove

Study-site link :
Link to the Blursday data access server :

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