Health Scoop

Running in heels: Is chronic lateness a biological thing?

LATENESS. IT’S A major faux pas when it comes to job interviews, meetings, and major family events. Unfortunately for some of us, being fashionably late in the work place  just does not fly. Timeliness is the socially acceptable form of professionalism (although even high-end professionals suffer sometimes).

But all this lateness business is based on a 60 second minute – a concept likely created by a Type A ancestor. Why? Because Type A personalities (those once valedictorians, those who have 5 different planners for each category of life, those with a color coded event calendar hanging on their wall) simply sense a minute to be less than 60 seconds. According to a study based in San Diego University, those goal oriented ambitious Type-A’ers have a biologically based clock that estimates their minute to equate to 58 seconds.

And Type-B’s? Well, the laid-back attitude comes at a price. A Type-B minute equals 77 seconds.

To put this into perspective, even if you wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed hours before you have to be elsewhere, giving yourself an extra 10 minutes in the morning to wrap up a project can already put you back 3 minutes if you’re not carefully monitoring the clock (17 seconds x 10 divided by 60). Meanwhile, your type A co-worker will probably be just a touch early (-2 seconds x 10 divided by 60).  Even the most responsible, well-meaning Type B type, may be in jeopardy even if industriously going at it since 4 AM, when a clock is not in sight.

So is translating time into tangible seconds arbitrary? Are some of us at a biological disadvantage simply due to our inability to sense time the way others do? Should have placed some of those Type B’s on the sundial committee!

Ref: Conte et al. Incremental Validity of Time Urgency and Other Type A Subcomponents in Predicting Behavioral and Health Criteria. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 31(8):1727-1748


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