Researchers appeared to have found the answer as to why people lose track of what day it is in the middle of the week but find it easier to recall if it is Monday or Friday.

In a new study, researchers involved over 1,000 individuals who were asked about their mental associations for each day of the week.

The results revealed that people tend to associate Monday with negative words such as hectic and boring and associated positive words such as freedom and party with Friday.

Monday and Friday thus have more mental representations associated with them compared with the midweek days giving them stronger identities compared with Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  

Because mid-weeks days have less meaning, people as a result, also easily confuse them with each other. Nearly 40 percent of the participants were confused of the current day with a preceding or following day and the mistakes more often occurred during the middle of the week.

When study researcher David Ellis, from the University of Lincoln's School of Psychology, and colleagues asked the participants what day it was, they found that people were able to correctly declare if it was Monday or Friday twice as fast as they could on other days of the week.

"The seven day weekly cycle is repeated for all of us from birth, and we believe this results in each day of the week acquiring its own character," Ellis said

The researchers said that people tend to be confused with the midweek days because of their sparse and similar mental representations and that the reason Mondays and Fridays are less confusable is because of their rich and distinctive mental representation.

The researchers likewise noted that time cycles can affect cognition and that the strong mental representations associated with the start and end of the week have contributed to the Blue Monday social phenomenon. Mondays, for instance are associated with increased risk for heart attack, higher suicide rates and lower stock returns.

"Midweek days are confusable because their mental representations are sparse and similar. Mondays and Fridays are less confusable, because their mental representations are rich and distinctive,"
the researchers wrote in their study published in the journal PLOS One on Aug. 19. 

"Previous studies have shown that natural temporal cycles (days, months, years) have psychological consequences. The present findings demonstrate that socially constructed temporal cycles can also shape our thinking."

Photo: Joe Lanman | Flickr

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