Should we worry about the time orientation of cultures when designing systems?

Yan Zhang, RS Goonetilleke, Thomas Plocher, Sheau Farn Max Liang

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


With the globalization of companies, knowledge of cultural differences and cognitive behavior are becoming very crucial for the design of systems. Time orientation, which categorizes behaviors as monochronic or polychronic, is potentially an important consideration as it can influence the manner in which an operator interacts with complex systems. Thus, systems and their design may have to accommodate these different behaviors. In this paper, the Modified Polychronic Attitude Index 3(MPAI3) and the Inventory of Polychronic Values (IPV) were used to evaluate the time orientation of Americans, Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese. The MPAI3 as well as the IPV scales showed significant differences between Americans and Chinese, but no significant difference between
Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese. The results also showed that a majority of Americans are polychronic while Hong Kong Chinese tend to show monochronic abilities. These results and their implications on interface design are discussed in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the IEA 2003 XVth Triennial Congress
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

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