Current Psychology

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 203-225

First online:

The effect of gender and time-of-day on time perception and mental workload

  • P. A. HancockAffiliated withHuman Factors Research Laboratory, University of Minnesota
  • , M. VercruyssenAffiliated withUniversity of Southern California
  • , G. J. RodenburgAffiliated withUniversity of Southern California

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Two experiments are reported which investigated how subject gender and time-of-day influenced the estimation of duration and the perception of task-related mental workload. In the first experiment, 24 subjects performed a filled time-estimation task in a constant blacked-out, noise-reduced environment at 0800h, 1200h, 1600h, and 2000h, respectively. In the second experiment, 12 different subjects performed an unfilled time estimation task in similar conditions at 0900h, 1400h, and 1900h. At the termination of all experimental sessions, participants completed the NASA Task Load Index workload assessment questionnaire as a measure of perceived mental workload. Results indicated that physiological response, reflected in body temperature change, followed an expected pattern of sequential increase with time-of-day. However, estimates of duration and the perception of mental workload showed no significant effects for time-of-day. In each of the experiments there were significant differences in time estimation and mental workload response contingent on the gender of the participant. These results are interpreted in light of the previous positive findings for circadian fluctuation in performance efficiency and the equivocal findings of a gender difference in time estimation. A unifying account of these collective results is given based on gender by time-of-day interactional effects.