News

Stereotypes of the working week


1 July 2008

"What we found is that actual moods don't seem to vary systematically throughout the week," Professor Areni (pictured) said.
"What we found is that actual moods don't seem to vary systematically throughout the week," Professor Areni (pictured) said.

Monday morning blues and Friday afternoon highs are largely a figment of our imagination a University of Sydney researcher has found.

"Day-of-the-week stereotypes like Monday morning blues and Thank God It's Friday (TGIF) are largely illusions," said Professor Charles Areni, from the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Sydney.

"When people are asked to remember how they felt in recent weeks past, or to predict how they will feel during the upcoming week, people remember and predict being bummed out on Monday mornings and really happy on Friday evenings," he said.

But when Professor Areni and Mitchell Burger of the NTF Group (a marketing consulting firm) asked 351 people about their actual current moods throughout the week, none of these day-of-the-week stereotypes appeared.

"Monday mornings were not the low point of the week, and although Friday and Saturday evenings were associated with positive moods, they were no better than moods reported on Tuesdays," said Professor Areni.

"What we found is that actual moods don't seem to vary systematically throughout the week. As it turned out, the low point of the week in our data was Wednesday, not Monday."

Professor Areni said the day-of-the-week stereotypes stem from a cultural belief that people are generally happier when they are free to choose their activities compared to when they are engaged in paid work.

"Monday morning is remembered and predicted to be the worst part of the week because it is the first work day after two days of free time, and because four work days follow before the next period of free time.

"Likewise, Friday evening is the best part of the week because it marks the beginning of an extended period of free time," Professor Areni said.

In other words, we remember (or expect) Mondays to be depressing and Fridays to be uplifting not because they really are, but because society has led us to believe that they are.

The research is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2008 (38).

Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 02 9351 2261 or 0434 606 100

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