Robert Levine in his study of time and geography found that in Western societies people walk more quickly. Time can also affect personality types. In an office there will always be someone who is running around trying to complete their tasks, while another person seems much relaxed. They will walk slower and they’re more mindful.
"People higher up the work ladder have more to do than those, let’s say, in the middle. But those that are on the top have more control over their time because they can tell others what to do."
So, you can immediately see how time affects your behaviour and your body language. If you’re feeling stressed - stress has a strong time component - you tend to be more fidgety. Whereas someone that is at rest and doesn’t feel stress will talk slower and make less movements with their arms and hands. This is something you immediately perceive and experience. If a person is stressed, their time is stressed. You immediately see it. Stress increases your arousal level because you feel that you have to fulfil these deadlines.
Those people that cope better with stress, it could be a sign that they’re higher up the social strata. There are empirical studies showing this. People higher up the work ladder have more to do than those, let’s say, in the middle. But those that are on the top have more control over their time because they can tell others what to do. But in the middle hierarchal level others tell you what to do.
Time constraints are imposed on you and you’re more at risk than when you’re on the top of the ladder and you impose it on others. If you look at top bankers they often seem very mindful, very quiet; they hold themselves well. People on the middle management level are much more fidgety, they talk quicker - they seem more hectic. This is a sign of hierarchy. If you’rein control of your time you can be more relaxed.
Another thing to take into consideration when discussing how time affects behaviour is the notion of Western societies glancing left when we remember things and to the right when we’re looking to the future. This is related to the X axis in mathematics when we plot graphs. Time moves to the right - it’s a cultural thing.
In metaphors of time we say that we’re looking ahead, or in front of us. We look to the future. And we look back when discussing thing like memory. So in terms of body language, in front is the future and behind us is the past and memory.
"Another thing to take into consideration when discussing how time affects behaviour is the notion of Western societies glancing left when we remember things and to the right when we’re looking to the future."
This is dominant in most languages but there are some special cases in which indigenous cultures - the indigenous Aymara people in South America for example - have it the other way around. And if you think about it, this makes sense. They say the past is in front of me - because you can see it. You know what you did last Christmas. But you don’t know what you will do next Christmas or next week.
So that’s an interesting switch, and it makes sense if you think about it. It also demonstrates that we place great emphasis on the future, and that’s ingrained in most cultures and societies. The idea that we’re always looking ahead. That’s the dominant perspective.