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Study: Why you never seem to know what day of the week it is

Image by Quartz/Thu-Huong Ha
What day is it?
By Thu-Huong Ha
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Do you find yourself forgetting which day it is during the monotony of mid-week? A new study suggests this is because during the week, you’re neither stressed nor excited.

Research published last week in PLOS ONE found that people were more likely to be confused about what day of the week it was on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and more likely to have a myriad of positive and negative associations with Monday and Friday, more so than other days of the week.

Led by University of Lincoln psychologist David Ellis, the team conducted three surveys of more than 1,200 people overall. In one study they showed that it took twice as long for participants to guess the right day of the week on Wednesdays than on Mondays and Fridays, with Tuesdays and Thursdays falling in between.

Courtesy of Rob Jenkins
Mean response time when participants were asked what day of the week it was.

The study shows that this could be related to the richness of our associations with each day of the week. People feel more extremely about Mondays and Fridays (negative for Monday and positive for Friday) and associate them with more events, activities, and feelings (i.e. stress, commutes). The middle weekdays had fewer associations.

Courtesy of Rob Jenkins
The number of different associations survey participants had with each day of the week.

Study co-author Rob Jenkins of the University of York tells Quartz that the team will look next at potential industry trends related to how our moods change across the week. Teasing out the collective swings in mood on different days could ”help us understand the large-scale effects of weekdays that we see in health and economics.”

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