Psychologists from the universities of Lincoln, York and Hertfordshire made a study which involves experiments that show how we perceive days of the week, how fast we can report which day of the week it is and what our mental representation of a day is.
The results show that our artificial seven-day cycle makes us give each day of the week its own character and that some are easier to recognize then others. One interesting finding here is that we have many more associations to Mondays and Fridays because these two occur much more frequently in natural language, for example there are many pop songs that use Monday and Friday, but very rarely do any songs use midweek days.
One experiment showed that people most frequently don’t know which day of the week it is during midweek days of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. A very common occurrence is that a person thinks it is Wednesday when in fact it is Thursday. Almost 40% of the participants got the day wrong and stated it was the day before or the following day. When the participants were questioned during a Bank Holiday week their mistake went over 50% and people often had a feeling that they are a day behind.
Lead researcher Dr David Ellis said:
“Our research implies that time cycles can shape cognition even when they are socially constructed. The Bank Holiday effect implies that apparent weekday is not determined solely by the seven-day period of the weekly cycle: transitions between the working week and weekend also play a role.”
Another experiment done by the psychologists showed that the fastest response for days we know are Monday and Friday. Again, the slowest response times are for mid week days of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. In fact people were able to tell that it is Monday or Friday twice as fast as they could tell that it is Wednesday.
Another thing that arose here is that we usually associate Mondays with negative words like “boring”, “hectic” and “tired” and Fridays with positive words like “party”, “freedom” and “release”.
Dr Rob Jenkins said:
“If links can be made in the future that aspects of behaviour such as risk or tolerance also vary systematically over the week, the implications could be profound, not only for individual behaviour, but also for psychological measurement.”
The study was published by David A. Ellis, Richard Wiseman and Rob Jenkins in a journal PLoS ONE under a research titled: “Mental Representations of Weekdays“.