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Polychronicity is a term that describes people who prefer to work on multiple activities at the same time. Examples of polychronic behaviors include talking on the phone while driving a car and browsing the internet while sitting in meetings. Polychronicity is in contrast to those who prefer monochronicity (doing one thing at a time). The polychronic-monochronic concept was first developed by Edward Hall in 1959 in his anthropological studies of time use in different cultures.

Measuring Polychronicity

Researchers have developed the following questionnaires to measure polychronicity:

  • Inventory of Polychronic Values (IPV) developed by Bluedorn et al. (1997) which is a 10-item scale designed to assess "the extent to which people in a culture prefer to be engaged in two or more tasks or events simultaneously and believe their preference is the best way to do things."
  • Polychronic Attitude Index (PAI) developed by Kaufman-Scarborough & Lindquist in 1991 which is a 4-item scale measuring individual preference for polychronicity:
    1. I do not like to juggle several activities at the same time.
    2. People should not try to do many things at once.
    3. When I sit down at my desk, I work on one project at a time.
    4. I am comfortable doing several things at the same time.

See also


Further reading

  • Bluedorn, A., Kalliath, T., Strube, M. & Martin, G. (1999). Polychronicity and the Inventory of Polychronic Values (IPV). Journal of Managerial Psychology, Volume 14, Numbers 3-4, 1999 , pp. 205–231(27)
  • Conte, J. M., Rizzuto, T. E., & Steiner, D. D. (1999). A construct-oriented analysis of individual-level polychronicity. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 14, 269–288.
  • Kaufman-Scarborough, Carol and Jay D. Lindquist (1999), "Time Management and Polychronicity: Comparisons, Contrasts, and Insights for the Workplace," Journal of Managerial Psychology, special issue on Polychronicity, Vol. 14, Numbers 3 /4, 288-312.

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