Tag Archives: Availability Heuristic

Mondays Aren’t As ‘Blue’ As We Think

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Happy Monday!  Or should I say ‘Blue Monday?’  After looking through various websites for a blog post topic to write about, I came across an article talking about why people associate Monday’s as gloomy or unpleasant.  The (old but interesting and relevant) article discusses how cognitive heuristics, memory, and decision-making all play a role in why most people consider Monday as the ‘worst day of the week.’  The peak-end heuristic is at play, which is the tendency to emphasize peaks and recent experiences when summarizing a period of time.  An example of this is the large change in mood from Sundays to Mondays in which people who work weekday shifts experience.  Memories also play a big role in the ‘Blue Monday’ belief.  Researchers conclude that if we have experienced something unpleasant on a Monday, it may lead us to associating Monday with the memory of the mood/emotion we felt on the past Monday.  Decision-making plays a role in the fact that it allows us to draw knowledge from our past experiences.  For example, experiencing an unpleasant medical test on a specific day will determine we choose to do that procedure again.

Arthur Stone conducted a research study in hopes of finding evidence that Mondays were in fact much more ‘bluer’ than other days in the week.  They conducted live phone interviews with people across the United States asking about their mood in the prior day.  With this information, he and his research team were hoping to find day-of-week (DOW) effects on both positive and negative moods.  Overall they found evidence that there were more positive moods on weekdays and Fridays.  With that being said, they did not find any evidence to support the ‘Blue Monday’ belief.  They also found that DOW effects were gender-blind; women were more likely to assess their moods negatively than men, but day to day changes were similar for both sexes.  In addition, Stone also conducted a study that examined the expectations about mood and day of the week.  He found that two-thirds of the participants voted Monday as the ‘worst’ day of the week, even if they may not have felt gloomier that day. 

Knowing and understanding why most people believe in the ‘Blue Monday’ or feel that Mondays are the ‘worst’ day of the week is interesting.  We know that in classifying Monday as ‘Blue Monday,’ there are many cognitive principles that apply to how we do so.  Heuristics play a big role in associating Mondays with unpleasant and gloomy moods.  For example, both peak-end heuristics play a role, as discussed in the article, as well as availability heuristics, discussed in class.  I gave the example for how peak-end heuristics play a role in ‘Blue Monday.’  The availability heuristic plays a role in ‘Blue Monday’ because if an unpleasant and gloomy mood is what is easily available to us on what happened on a Monday, then we are more likely to associate Monday with that mood.  In addition to that, if that is the memory we have with Mondays, that situation is more likely to stick to our memory, resulting in Mondays being associated with a ‘Blue Monday.’  As discussed in class and the article, we know that memory can be flawed, which may be one of the reasons why people most associate Mondays as the ‘worst’ day of the week, when in fact, they do not feel gloomier or less pleasant on that day.

I thought this article did a great job in explaining why people most associate Monday as the ‘worst’ day of the week.  Like most people, I myself associate Monday as the ‘worst’ day of the week and dread Mondays.  After reading this article and Stone’s study, it gave me a better understanding of why people may seem to think this way even though Mondays actually is not a more gloomier and unpleasant day in comparison to the rest of the week.  The article did a nice job in including many different concepts in helping explain why Monday is considered as ‘Blue Monday.’  The article introduced a new type of cognitive heuristic in which I was not aware of, which I enjoyed learning about.  I think that the article gave great examples in helping explaining how the cognitive principles applied to the ‘Blue Monday’ belief most people have.

After reading the article and relating it to past research and what we have discussed in class, I have a better understanding on why we believe in a ‘Blue Monday,’ how that belief is created, and how it may be flawed as a result of memory.  The article discusses how because our memory is flawed, it may be a result of our association of Monday with a ‘Blue Monday.’  This makes me wonder, what if this whole time ‘Blue Monday’ may have been a ‘Thank God it’s Monday,’ but it is not due to our flawed memories of Mondays being gloomy and unpleasant rather than joyful and happy.  I think that the research done on ‘Blue Mondays’ is very interesting and helpful in understanding why the majority of people do consider Mondays as the ‘worst’ day of the week.  I also thought it was interesting to read that the research found that retirees did not make much of a distinction between weekends and weekdays.  With that being said, do you think that people are only ‘blue’ on Mondays because they have to go back to work and/or school on Monday?  What about people who have different work schedules?  For example, if someone had a Wednesday to Sunday work-week, would they consider Wednesdays as their ‘Blue Monday?’