Background: I had a (rental) property that I was planning to put up for sale. Then I "changed my mind" and said that I wanted to wait for the current year's appreciation, and sell in "six months" (from the time our conversation took place in early March). The realtor promised to get back to me in six months. That would have been September.

I called back the realtor almost two months later. He was surprised to hear from me so soon. He said," I thought you wanted to sell in "six months." I said, yes, but we need three months' lead time. Two months to give the tenant 60 days' notice (May and June), under Oregon law, and one month to clean up the place (July). That would give us a target sale date of August (instead of September, originally). OK, I had moved up the sale date one month, but the real issue was three months' lead time.

I had a similar conversation with the property manager, who notified the tenant in March when I first intended to sell, then assured her that this would not happen for a "long time." Now we have to tell the tenant that the notice is "imminent."

General Question

What are the cognitive processes of how people measure time, and form a view as to whether or not six months is a "long time? Could the above be an application of e.g. Vierordt's Law, where short intervals are overestimated and longer intervals are underestimated?

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    $\begingroup$ Everyones perception of time is subjective, doesn't it feel like a long time if you have to stand somewhere waiting for someone for 1 hour? It also feels long to wait for that thing you so excitedly ordered off amazon for a week to be shipped to you. This question has no answer except that humans tend to be more interested in things that are happening now, things that they can make happen now, than things that will happen much later, we hate to wait. Watch this: youtube.com/watch?v=fle_FkILmEQ $\endgroup$ – Cestarian May 1 '15 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Josh: I have edited the question to make it more objective. I am now asking about the cognitive process of how people measure and perceive time, as opposed to their impressions. I am wondering if the question can be reopened in its current form. $\endgroup$ – Tom Au May 1 '15 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ Kudos for the surgical edit there, I think the question should be in scope now. There is a fairly extensive literature on temporal perception―time perception may be interesting to read. $\endgroup$ – Christian Hummeluhr May 1 '15 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ Definitely a better question now for sure, it's one that can be answered; but only by someone smarter than me. $\endgroup$ – Cestarian May 1 '15 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ A six-month duration will consistently translate into an ever-decreasing fraction of your life spent and in turn becomes an ever-increasing fraction of your total life remaining. When this life-fact exists in various forms of your consciousness, the age that you are and the age that you feel contribute markedly towards the cognitive processes of how people can measure perception. Grouped with the the flow of broader life and societal pressures, a thoroughly subjective perception is ensured. Such perceptions of [six] months can be changed by the amount of information kept during that period. $\endgroup$ – PCARR Aug 19 '17 at 11:55

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