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Polychronicity is the extent to which people prefer to work on multiple activities at the same time.[1] Examples of polychronic behaviors include: cooking food while watching television, browsing the internet while sitting in meetings, and talking on the phone while driving a car. Polychronicity is in contrast to those who prefer monochronicity (doing one thing at a time).[2] The polychronic-monochronic concept was first developed by Edward T. Hall in 1959 in his anthropological studies of time use in different cultures.

Measuring polychronicity[edit]

Researchers have developed the following questionnaires to measure polychronicity:

  • Inventory of Polychronic Values (IPV), developed by Bluedorn et al. (1999) which is a 10-item scale designed to assess "the extent to which people in a culture prefer to be engaged in two or more tasks or events simultaneously and believe their preference is the best way to do things."
  • Polychronic Attitude Index (PAI), developed by Kaufman-Scarborough & Lindquist in 1991, which is a 4-item scale measuring individual preference for polychronicity, in the following statements:
    1. "I do not like to juggle several activities at the same time".
    2. "People should not try to do many things at once".
    3. "When I sit down at my desk, I work on one project at a time".
    4. "I am comfortable doing several things at the same time".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Punctuality: Some cultures are wound tighter than others - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 1994-12-30. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  2. ^ Joshua Keating (2012-03-16). "Why Time is a Social Construct | Science | Smithsonian". Smithsonianmag.com. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bluedorn, A., Kalliath, T., Strube, M. & Martin, G. (1999). Polychronicity and the Inventory of Polychronic Values (IPV). Journal of Managerial Psychology, Volume 14, Numbers 3-4, 1999, pp. 205–231(27)
  • Conte, J. M., Rizzuto, T. E., & Steiner, D. D. (1999). A construct-oriented analysis of individual-level polychronicity. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 14, 269–288.
  • Kaufman-Scarborough, Carol and Jay D. Lindquist (1999), "Time Management and Polychronicity: Comparisons, Contrasts, and Insights for the Workplace," Journal of Managerial Psychology, special issue on Polychronicity, Vol. 14, Numbers 3 /4, 288-312.
  • Timesense: Polychronicity and Monochronicity
  • Luximon, Y. and Goonetilleke, R. S. (2010). The relationship between monochronicity, polychronicity and individual characteristics. Behaviour & Information Technology, Volume 29(2), 187-198
  • Zhang Y., Goonetilleke, R. S., Plocher, T., and Liang, Sheau-Farn Max. (2005). Time-related behaviour in multitasking situations. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. Vol. 62(4), pp. 425-455.