Different Personalities Experience Time Differently

Type-A and type-B personalities experience time differently, according to a study that looked at why some people arrive habitually late to appointments. 

Updated May 13, 2015


Type-A and type-B personalities experience time differently, according to a study that looked at why some people arrive habitually late to appointments. When small differences in how time is measured internally add up over many minutes, personality helps explain why some individuals tend to be more punctual than others.

"It's estimated that the US loses $90 billion each year as a result of people running late."

In the study, conducted by Dr. Jeff Conte, an associate psychology professor at San Diego State University, participants were given personality assessments, then some were placed into the type-A category — those who are fast-paced, achievement-oriented, and hostile at times — and others into type-B — who are more laid back and tend to arrive late.  

"One of the most obvious and common reasons that people are frequently late is that they simply fail to accurately judge how long a task will take - something known as the planning fallacy. Research has shown that people on average underestimate how long a task will take to complete by a significant 40 percent."

Across three different trials, type-A individuals estimated that a minute had gone by in 58 seconds while their type-B counterparts judged each minute to last 77 seconds. Being habitually late, in other words, is less a matter of time management than it is an overall outlook we have on the world around us.

Sam Gosling, professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, confirms this. Even people who make conscious efforts to change their organizational or time-keeping habits find it extremely difficult to make permanent adjustments. 

American education: It’s colleges, not college students, that are failing

Who is to blame for the U.S.'s dismal college graduation rate? "Radical" educator Dennis Littky has a hunch.

Percentage of college student dropouts by age at enrollment: 2-year and 4-year institutions

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • COVID-19 has magnified the challenges that underserved communities face with regard to higher education, such as widening social inequality and sky-high tuition.
  • At College Unbound, where I am president, we get to know students individually to understand what motivates them, so they can build a curriculum based on goals they want to achieve.
  • My teaching mantra: Everything is permitted during COVID-19. Everything is permitted during COVID-19. Everything is permitted during COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle may finally be solved

Meteorologists propose a stunning new explanation for the mysterious events in the Bermuda Triangle.

Surprising Science

One of life's great mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle might have finally found an explanation. This strange region, that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been the presumed cause of dozens and dozens of mind-boggling disappearances of ships and planes.

Keep reading Show less

LIVE AT 2 PM ET | Lead your team toward collaborative problem solving

What does it mean to "lead without authority"?

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

Keep reading Show less

Planet Nine will be discovered in the next decade. Here’s why.

The planet that we are searching for is a little bit smaller and closer than we originally thought.

Planet Nine will be discovered in the next decade. Here’s why. | ...
Videos
  • Years ago, California Institute of Technology professor Konstantin Batygin was inspired to embark on a journey of discovering what lurked beyond Neptune. What he and his collaborator discovered was a strange field of debris.
  • This field of debris exhibited a clustering of orbits, and something was keeping these orbits confined. The only plausible source would be the gravitational pull of an extra planet—Planet Nine.
  • While Planet Nine hasn't been found directly, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. And Batygin is confident we'll return to a nine-planet solar system within the next decade.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…