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Robinson research covered in the Irish Times

Higher Status Workers More Likely to Overestimate Time Spent at Work

When survey questions ask about the amount of time people spend on various activities, responses are notoriously inaccurate. Respondents tend to overestimate the time they actually spend working. According to a study by MPRC Faculty Associate John Robinson and his colleague Jonathan Gershuny (Oxford University), these estimates of overwork are tied to status. Those with higher status jobs (doctors, CEOs, etc.) are more likely to overestimate how much time they spend working than employees with lower status.

Higher-status workers may be overestimating their work hours because they place greater value on their work, or because they gain social status from working more hours. This may distort their perception of the number of hours they actually work.

This study helps shed light on some of the reasons why people tend to over- or under-estimate the amount of time they spend on different activities, and it underscores the need for researchers interested in time use to check survey results against more accurate representations of how people spend their time, such as time use diaries.

Read the news story on The Irish Times

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