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Journal Articles Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Year : 2011

Clock time vs. event time: Temporal culture or self-regulation?


Cross-cultural research documented two types of temporal culture governing the way individuals schedule tasks over time: clock-time, where individuals let an external clock dictate when tasks begin/end; and event-time, where tasks are planned relative to other tasks and individuals transition between them when they internally sense that the former task is complete. In contrast with this prior literature - that credits culture as the reason for variation in temporal norms - we show in two experiments that individuals choose clock- vs. event-time as a self-regulation strategy to achieve a regulatory goal (efficiency vs. effectiveness). A third experiment shows that this strategy enhances confidence and performance on a task. Participants solved significantly more math problems when their task scheduling (clock- vs. event-time) matched their regulatory state (promotion vs. prevention). Since clock-/event-time may both lead to superior performance, clock-time is not the single best way to organize productive activities in industrial societies--a result that counters a foundational principle of modern economics.


Dates and versions

hal-00668709 , version 1 (10-02-2012)



Tamar Avnet, Anne-Laure Sellier. Clock time vs. event time: Temporal culture or self-regulation?. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2011, 47 (3), pp.665-667. ⟨10.1016/j.jesp.2011.01.006⟩. ⟨hal-00668709⟩


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