A Grounded Theory on the Relation of Time Awareness and Perceived Valence
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The subjective experience of time has many different facets. The present study focused on time awareness and its antipode timelessness as an expression of the extent one focuses on the passage of time. In an exploratory mixed-methods study, we investigated different extents of this time awareness and their relation to perceived valence of the environment, different states of consciousness, and strategies to cope with doing nothing. Thirty-three participants were tested for one hour or more with sitting and exploring as the within-subjects factor. For each condition, they stayed in one of two libraries characterized by their contemplative architecture. Then, participants answered quantitative questionnaires on their time experience and perceived valence and participated in a semi-structured interview. By means of grounded theory, we extracted four different types of time awareness from the qualitative data, of which three corresponded to the results of a cluster analysis on the dimensions of time awareness and perceived valence of the environment. In line with previous literature, we found relations between unpleasant high time awareness and boredom and pleasant low time awareness and flow. Additionally, the data revealed a pattern of high time awareness and positively perceived valence that was mainly experienced while sitting. Possible connections to states of consciousness such as relaxation, idleness, and a mindful attitude are outlined. Real-life settings, long durations, and level of activation are discussed as possible fostering factors for finding this pattern.