Thursday, February 17, 2005

Oh, no wonder we see so many last minute writers!

“We're better at allotting money than time”

Lee Bowman’s article summarizes “Resource Slack and Propensity to Discount Delayed Investments of Time Versus Money,” by Gal Zauberman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and John G. Lynch, Jr., Duke University, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (February 2005).

Bowman notes: “The researchers probed people's expectations with a series of seven questionnaire-style experiments involving groups of graduate and undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina and Duke. They found that respondents generally had more expectation of time ‘slack’ to complete a task down the road than an expectation of money. Participants believed that both time and money would be more available ‘in a month’ than ‘today,’ but believed this more strongly for time than money.”

And, Bowman also adds: “In other words, people optimistically see their time pressures working out better tomorrow or next week than they have today, no matter what the demands that might intrude on their time later on. Even with a constant stream of evidence that overly optimistic schedules won't work, ‘it is difficult to learn from feedback that time will not be more abundant in the future,’ Zauberman and Lynch write.”

What do these findings mean for us, the people most likely to complain about last minute student writers, the people who tell student writers (over and over again) that they should come to the writing center earlier in their writing process and not the day before the paper is due?

The final paragraph before the “Conclusion” of the article raises a point writing center directors should think about (especially those of us who take on everything we’re asked to do). Zauberman and Lynch note “We may curse ourselves in the long run for saying yes to many small professional services that provide momentary approval from those who ask us to undertake some task but provide no particular satisfaction in long-term retrospect. This is a fascinating issue for future research on self-control” (36).

The article is available on-line here. See “Articles in the News.”


At 5:30 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

Oh, yeah. I always think I'll have plenty of time for that down the road.

"And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
and for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
talking of Michaelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
to wonder, "Do I dare"? and, "Do I dare?" ---
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot growing in the middle of my hair" (Eliot, "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

As far as the writing studio goes, I think I'd rather have a hundred visions than a hundred revisions!

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