Current Psychology

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 203–225 | Cite as

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

  • P. A. Hancock
  • M. Vercruyssen
  • G. J. Rodenburg


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.


Motor Skill Female Subject Time Estimation Current Psychology Time Perception 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams, J.A. (1964). Motor skills.Annual Review of Psychology, 202, 181–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adkins, S. (1964). Performance, heart rate, and respiration rate on the day-night continuum.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 18, 409–412.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Asso, D. (1987). Cyclical variations. In M.A. Baker (Ed.),Sex differences in human performance. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. Axel, R, (1924). Estimation of time.Archives of Psychology, 12 No. 74.Google Scholar
  5. Bakan, P., & Kleba, F. (1957). Reliability of time estimates.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 7, 23–24.Google Scholar
  6. Baker, M.A. (1987). (Ed.).Sex differences in human performance. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Baker, M.A., Holding, D.H., & Loeb, M. (1984). Noise, sex and time-of-day effects in a mathematics task.Ergonomics, 27, 67–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baker, M.A., & Pangburn, K. (1982). Female temperature cycles and their relationship to performance. Paper presented at the 20th Congress of the International Association of Applied Psychology, Edinburgh, Scotland.Google Scholar
  9. Baker, M.A., Quinkert, K., Holding, D.H., & Colquhoun, W.P. (March, 1989).Time of day and female temperature as factors in performance. Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
  10. Baldwin, R.O., Thor, D.H., & Wright, D.E. (1966). Sex differences in the sense of time: Failure to replicate a 1904 study.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 22, 398.Google Scholar
  11. Bell, C.R. (1972). Accurate performance of a time estimation task in relation to sex, age, and personality variables.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 35, 175–178.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Bergson, H. (1910).Time and free will. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. Bindra, D., & Waksberg, H. (1956). Methods and terminology in studies of time estimation.Psychological Bulletin, 53, 155–159.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carlson, V., & Feinberg, I. (1970). Time judgment as a function of method, practice, and sex.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 85, 171–180.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chignell, M.H., & Hancock, P.A. (1985). Knowledge-based load leveling and task allocation in human-machine systems.Proceedings of the Annual Conference on Manual Control, 21, 9.1–9.11.Google Scholar
  16. Christie, M.J., & McBrearty, E.M.T. (1977). Deep body temperature: Diurnal variation, sex and personality.Journal of Psychosomatic Research.20, 501–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Christie, M.J., & McBrearty, E.M.T. (1979). Psychophysiological investigations of post lunch state in male and female subjects.Ergonomics, 22, 307–323.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Colquhoun, W.P. (1971). Circadian variations in mental efficiency. In W.P. Colquhoun (Ed.),Biological rhythms and human performance. (pp. 39–107). Academic Press: London.Google Scholar
  19. Damos, D.L. (1988). Individual differences in subjective estimates of workload. In P.A. Hancock & N. Meshkati (Eds.).Human mental workload. (pp. 231–237). North-Holland: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  20. Damos, D.L., & Lyall, E.A. (1986). The effect of varying stimulus and response modes and asymmetric transfer on the dual-task performance of discrete tasks.Ergonomics, 29, 519–533.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Delay, E.R., & Richardson, M.A. (1981). Time estimation in humans; Effects of ambient illumination and sex.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 53, 747–750.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Derrick, W.L. (1988). Dimensions of operator workload.Human Factors, 30, 95–110.Google Scholar
  23. Dresslar, F.B. (1892). Some influences which affect the rapidity of voluntary movements.American Journal of Psychology, 4, 514–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Edelstein, B.C. (1982). The efficacy of ear canal temperature as an indirect measure of cerebral blood flow in non-stressful and stressful conditions. Doctoral dissertation. California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  25. Empson, J. (1977). Periodicity in body temperature in man.Experientia, 33, 342–343.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Folkard, S., & Monk, T.H., (1979). Time-of-day and processing strategy in free recall.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 31, 461–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Folkard, S., & Monk, T.H. (1980). Circadian rhythms in human memory.British Journal of Psychology, 71, 295–307.Google Scholar
  28. Folkard, S., Weaver, R., & Wildgruber, C. (1983). Multi-oscillatory control of circadian rhythms in human performance.Nature, 305. 223–226.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Francois, M. (1927). Contribution a l’etude du sens du temps. La temperature interne comme facteur de l’appreciation subjective des durees.Annee Psychologie.28, 186–204.Google Scholar
  30. Geer, J.H., Platt, P.E, & Singer, M. (1964). A sex difference in time estimation.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 19, 42.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Getsinger, S.H. (1974). Temporal estimation, sex, and ego strength.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 38, 322.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Gibbon, J., & Allan, L. (Eds.). (1984).Timing and time perception. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, No. 423.Google Scholar
  33. Gilliland, A.R., Hofeld, J., & Eckstrand, G. (1946). Studies in time perception.Psychological Bulletin, 43, 162–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gilliland, A.R., & Humphreys, D.W. (1943). Age, sex, method and interval as variables in time estimation.Journal of General Psychology, 63, 123–130.Google Scholar
  35. Goldstone, S. (1968). Variability of temporal judgement: Intersensory comparisons and sex differences.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 26, 211–215.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Gopher, D., & Donchin, E. (1986). Workload: An examination of the concept. In K. Boff, L. Kaufman., & J.P. Thomas, (Eds.).Handbook of perception and human performance. (pp. 1–49). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  37. Greenburg, R., & Kurz, R. (1968). Influence of type of stressor and sex of subject on time estimation.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 26, 899–903.Google Scholar
  38. Guay, M., & Hall, C. (1977). Human time estimation: Bibliography.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 44, 1087–1092.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Gulliksen, H. (1927). The influence of occupation upon the perception of time.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 10, 52–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Guyau, J.M. (1890).La genese de l’idee de temps. Paris: Alcan.Google Scholar
  41. Hancock, P.A. (1983). The effect of an induced selective increase in head temperature upon performance of a simple mental task.Human Factors, 25, 441–448.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Hancock, P.A. (1989). The effect of performance failure and task demand on the perception of mental workload.Applied Ergonomics, 20, 197–205.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hancock, P.A. (1992).The internal clock. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  44. Hancock, P.A., Chignell, M.H., & Kerr, G. (August 1988). Defining task complexity and task difficulty.Proceedings of the XXIV International Congress of Psychology, Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  45. Hancock, P.A., & Meshkati, N. (Eds.) (1988).Human mental workload, North-Holland: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  46. Hancock, P.A., Meshkati, N., & Robertson, M.M. (1985). Physiological reflections of mental workload.Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 56, 1110–1114.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Hancock, P.A., & Vercruyssen, M. (1992).Sex-related differences in time perception. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  48. Hancock, P.A., & Warm, J.S. (1989). A dynamic model of stress and sustained attention.Human Factors, 31, 519–537.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Hart, S.G. (1988). Personal communication.Google Scholar
  50. Hart, S.G., & Staveland, L.E. (1988). Development of NASA TLX (Task Load Index): Results of empirical and theoretical research. In P.A. Hancock & N. Meshkati (Eds.).Human mental workload. (pp. 139–183) North-Holland: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  51. Hoagland, H. (1933). The physiological control of judgements of duration: Evidence for a chemical clock.Journal of General Psychology, 9, 267–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Horne, J.A., & Coyne, I. (1975). Seasonal changes in the circadian variation of oral temperature during wakefulness.Experientia, 31, 1296–1297.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Hornstein, A., & Rotter, G. (1969). Research methodology in temporal perception.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 79, 561–564.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Huyck, M.H. (1990). Gender differences in aging. In J.E. Birren & K.W. Schaie (Eds.).Handbook of the psychology of aging. (3rd Edition), (pp. 124–132). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  55. Jones, M.R. (1976). Time, our lost dimension: Toward a new theory of perception, attention, and memory.Psychological Review, 83, 323–355.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Kantowitz, B.H. (1987). Mental workload. In P.A. Hancock (Ed.).Human factors psychology (pp. 81–121). North-Holland: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  57. Kirkcaldy, B.D. (1984). Individual differences in time estimation.International Journal of Sport Psychology, 15, 11–24.Google Scholar
  58. Kleitman, N. (1939/1963).Sleep and wakefulness. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.Google Scholar
  59. Levin, I., & Zakay, D. (Eds.). (1988).Time and human cognition: A life span perspective. North-Holland: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  60. Loehlin, J.C., (1959). The influence of different activities on the apparent length of time.Psychological Monographs, 73, Whole No. 474.Google Scholar
  61. MacDougall, R. (1904). Sex differences in the sense of time.Science, 19, 707–708.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Martin, G.A., Shumate, M., & Frauenfelder, K. (1981). Experience of duration as a function of the number of responses, task difficulty, and sex.Perceptual and Motor Skills.53, 139–145.Google Scholar
  63. McCauley, M.E., Kennedy, R.S., & Bittner, A.C. Jr. (1980). Development of performance evaluation tests for environmental research (PETER): Time estimation.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 51, 655–665.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Montgomery, J.D. (1979). Variations in perception of short time intervals during menstrual cycle.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 49, 940–942.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Montare, A. (1985). Learning effects of knowledge of results upon time estimation.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 60, 871–877.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Moore, S.E. (1982).Estimates of sleep latency and of other temporal intervals in insomniac and normal sleepers. Masters thesis, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.Google Scholar
  67. Moore-Ede, M.C., Sulzman, F.M., & Fuller, C.A. (1982).The clocks that time us. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  68. Moray, N. (1979). (Ed.).Mental workload: Its theory and measurement. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  69. O’Donnell, R.D., & Eggemeier, F.T. (1986). Workload assessment methodology. In K. Boff, L. Kaufman, & J.P. Thomas, (Eds.).Handbook of perception and human performance. (pp. 1–49). Wiley: New York.Google Scholar
  70. Ornstein, R.E. (1969).On the experience of time. Baltimore: Penguin.Google Scholar
  71. Parsons, J.E. (1980).The psychobiology of sex differences and sex roles. New York: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
  72. Pfaff, D. (1968). Effects of temperature and time-of-day on time judgments.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 76, 419–422.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Pöppel, E. (1978). Time perception. In R. Held, H. Leibowitz, and H-L. Teuber (Eds.).Handbook of Sensory Physiology. Vol VIII (pp. 713–729). Berlin.Google Scholar
  74. Poppel, E., & Giedke, H. (1970). Diurnal variation of time perception.Psychologie Forschung, 34, 182–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Poulton, E.C. (1982). Influential companions: Effects of one strategy on another in the within-subject designs of cognitive psychology.Psychological Bulletin, 92, 673–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Quinkert, K. (1985).A multifactor approach to the study of circadian rhythms in temperature and skill performance. Doctoral dissertation, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.Google Scholar
  77. Rammsayer, T., & Lustnauer, S. (1989), Sex differences in time perception.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 68, 195–198.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  78. Roeckelein, V.E. (1972). Sex differences in time estimation.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 35, 859–862.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Smythe, E., & Goldstone, S. (1957). The time sense: A normative genetic study of the development of time perception.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 7, 49–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Swift, E.Y., & McGeoch, J.A. (1925). An experimental study of the perception of filled and empty time.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 8, 240–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Tavris, C., & Wade, C. (1984).The longest war: Sex differences in perspective. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  82. Thor, D.H. (1962). Diurnal variability in time perception.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 15, 451–454.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Thor, D.H., & Baldwin, R.O. (1965). Time-of-day estimates at six times of day under normal conditions.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 21, 904–906.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. Thor, D.H., & Crawford, M.L.J. (1964). Time perception during a two-week confinement: Influence of age, sex, IQ, and time of day.Acta Psychologica, 22, 78–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Treisman, M. (1963). Temporal discrimination and the indifference interval: Implications for a model of the internal clock.Psychological Monographs, 77, (Whole No. 576).Google Scholar
  86. Treisman, M. (1984). Temporal rhythms and cerebral rhythms.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 423, 542–565.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Unger, R.K. (1979).Female and male: Psychological perspectives. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  88. Vidulich, M.A. (1988). The cognitive psychology of subjective mental workload. In P.A. Hancock and N. Meshkati (Eds.).Human mental workload. (pp. 219–229). North-Holland: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  89. Webb, W.B. (Ed.). (1982).Biological rhythms, sleep, and performance. Wiley: New York.Google Scholar
  90. Wever, R.A. (1984). Sex differences in human circadian rhythms: Intrinsic periods and sleep fractions.Experientia, 40, 1226–1234.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Wilson, G.F. & O’Donnell, R.D. (1988). Measurement of operator workload with the neuropsychological workload test battery. In P.A. Hancock & N. Meshkati (Eds.).Human mental workload. (pp. 63–100). North-Holland: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  92. Yeh, Y.Y., & Wickens, C.D. (1988). Dissociation of performance and subjective measures of workload.Human Factors, 30, 111–120.Google Scholar
  93. Yerkes, R., & Urban, F. (1906). Time estimation in its relation to sex, age, and physiological rhythms.Harvard Psychological Studies, 405–430.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. A. Hancock
    • 1
  • M. Vercruyssen
    • 2
  • G. J. Rodenburg
    • 2
  1. 1.Human Factors Research LaboratoryUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolis
  2. 2.University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles

Personalised recommendations