Are We There Yet? An Anticipation Account of the Return Trip Effect

  • Zoey Chen (Creator)
  • Ryan Hamilton (Creator)
  • Derek Rucker (Creator)



Research has documented the psychological phenomenon in which the trip back from a destination is experienced as shorter than the trip to the destination. Deemed the “return trip effect” (RTE), prior work explained this phenomenon in terms of differential familiarity between home and outbound destination or an underestimation of initial travel time. The present article posits an anticipation account for the RTE: Outbound trips to a destination tend to foster higher levels of anticipation than return trips. Due to greater anticipation, people’s perception of time elongates. Importantly, the anticipation account makes novel predictions with regard to the occurrence of the RTE that cannot be accounted for by prior explanations. Multiple studies, with diverse methodologies, test and offer evidence in support of an anticipation account of the RTE.
Date made available2020
PublisherSAGE Journals

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