The relationship between monochronicity, polychronicity and individual characteristics

Ravindra S. Goonetilleke, Yan Luximon

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


With the increasing complexity of control rooms and the information explosion, effective multitasking is now desired. Monochronicity and polychronicity, which describe a person's ability to do one thing and many things at a time, respectively, have been studied for a long time. However, it is not clear these abilities are related to various individual characteristics. Forty-eight Chinese participants were tested on their perception, memory, judgement, attention ability and cognitive style. They also performed a task that required search and calculation under three conditions of unpaced, paced and paced with sequencing. There were significant differences in the performance and strategy between monochronic and polychronic individuals in the selective attention test. Monochronic individuals focused their attention on the primary task and achieved higher performance. Polychronic individuals had somewhat better total performance in more than one task under time-constrained conditions. The results clearly indicate that an individual's time use behaviours ought to be considered in training and control scenarios to account for differences among people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive abilities
  • Individual differences
  • Multitasking
  • Polychronicity
  • Time use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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