Suggested Answers – Monochronic & Polychronic Time


These behaviors are more commonly associated with the Monochronic  world view:  


These behaviors are more commonly associated with the Polychronic  world view:  


1 - Time is money: time is just time for polychronic types   5 - Being made to wait is normal: waiting isn’t bad in cultures where being on time is less important  
2 - To be late is rude: being on time is important for monochronic types   6 - Interruptions are life: upsetting schedules doesn’t matter where schedules aren’t that important anyway  
3 - Schedules are sacred: monochronic time depends on schedules   9 - The focus is on the person, establishing a relationship: people count more in polychronic time  
4 - The focus is on the task, getting the job done: monochronic time thinks less about people, more about goals   10 - This attitude is consistent with a collectivist viewpoint: in that collectivists are more attuned to needs of others, as are polychronic types  
7 - Plans are fixed, once agreed upon: changes in plans upset monochronic people who live by their plans   11 - Deadlines are an approximation: being on time (adhering to deadline) not as crucial in polychronic world  
8 - This attitude is consistent with an individualist viewpoint: because it takes other people into account less than polychronic time  12 - To be late is to be late: late matters less where time matters less  
15 - Having to wait is an insult: because being late is rude in monochronic time   13 - Focus on the internal clock: polychronic types are more in touch with the person than monochronic types  
17 - Interruptions are bad: because they upset the schedule   14 - Plans are always changing: polychronic types can change plans more easily because they are less in the grip of schedules  
18 - People stand in line: being waited on one at a time is monochronic behavior   16 - People are never too busy: there is always enough time in polychronic world  





The difference between "clock time" and "social time" is made in all societies, but in general, a society tends to operate most of the time on the basis of either monochronic or polychronic time. The more rigid monochronic cultures tend to be found largely among Euro-American nations, while polychronic time is characteristic of much of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, large areas of South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands, the Middle East, and among tribal populations everywhere.  

For a study abroad student to avoid constant frustration, it is essential for them to have some idea about how a culture is likely to view time. If what you define as "chronic lateness" is perceived in the host culture as "reasonably on time," it is clear that you will need to adjust your expectations of how long things will take to accomplish. It would also be advisable that you prepare to ease up a bit, if you are a monochronic type, on obsessing over maintaining strict schedules in cultures with a more relaxed approach towards timetables and punctuality. On the other hand, you might be a polychronic person even though you have grown up in US-American culture where the majority is not. In that case, going to, say, Argentina or Mexico would be relatively easy and suit your personal preferences, while going to Germany, France, or England might be somewhat more of a challenge. 

Obviously, no culture is exclusively one way or the other in time preferences, but understanding the general approach that local people will take towards management of time will help in reducing frustration in everyday life. Time is going to have a fairly immediate impact upon every study abroad student, including how classes are scheduled, and when and how long they meet; how long (and when) stores will be open for business; when meals are scheduled; office hours of governmental and administrative offices; local transportation schedules, and hundreds of other common circumstances. 

Conceptions of time are closely related to another "contrast set" that is useful to know about termed “High and Low Context” cultures. Continue to the next section (1.4.6) for an explanation of High and Low context cultures and a quiz to help you figure out which type of culture seems most natural to you (and why you might want to adjust your behavior if you turn out to be a Low context type (US-Americans tend towards a more low context style) but are about to enter a High context study abroad site (e.g., Japan, China, Brazil, Nepal among many others).



    INSIGHT..!!  Time is a cultural phenomenon