Cognitive Maps of Time

We all have a deep and mostly unexamined sense of knowing what time is, and how it moves. Cognitive maps of time make that fundamental form of knowing visible by illustrating how quickly or slowly time is expected to move.

These maps also suggest degree of predictability, flexibility, or ability to accommodate other temporal outlooks.

Members of a group were asked to draw a picture of a typical week. Here are some results.

Some people see weeks as circular... Others see weeks as linear or angular...
Diagram 2 Diagram 1
Time can be smooth and regular... Or rough and ueven...
Time Diagram 7 Time Diagram 8
Time Diagram 3 Time Diagram 6

These diagrams show differences in:

Pace and workload relationships
Feelings of entrapment and depression
Past moments of joy
Importance of sleep
Time Diagram 4
Time Diagram 5 Differences result from:
Philosophy, culture & religion
Experience (class, gender, ability)
Personal stability and need for security
Personal Expectations - hope & despair
Belief in self efficacy & locus of control

Problems with Pace, Rhythm & Future Negatively Effect Productivity

Time 1
Low Level of Engagement
Bad Coordination & Teamwork
Missed Deadlines
Drug Abuse & Alcoholism
Despair & Depression

An individual Temporal Signature™, or characteristic knowing of time, affects many things, especially sensitivity to the timing expectations of others.

Here is a simplified illustration of what an organization does – or tries to do – to individual pacing and images of the future.

Time Diagram

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