The surprising links between anger and time perception

Here's a test: let's say a meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been moved forward two days. What is the new day of the meeting? If you think it's Friday, you imagine time as something you move through. If you think it's Monday, you think of time as something that passes by you. So what? Well, according to the British Psychological Society, "Friday" people have an angrier disposition, than "Monday" people. The researchers also found that "thinking about moving through time can induce anger."
The researchers presented students with a computer screen flat on a desk, facing the ceiling. On it were the days of the week, in a vertical line with Saturday at the top, then Friday, Thursday, all the way down to Sunday at the bottom, nearest the participant. Commands were given that either provoked thoughts about moving through time, away from the participant (e.g. a meeting has moved forward two days from Sunday to Wednesday - please highlight the new day on the screen), or thoughts about time moving towards the participant (e.g. a shift down the screen, towards the participant from Wednesday to Sunday). Participants primed to think about their movement through time subsequently rated themselves as feeling angrier than participants in the "time moving towards them" condition.
"Angry thoughts can change the way we think about time." (Via Derren Brown)


  1. If the screen is ‘facing the ceiling’ it is in the x-y plane, and therefore cannot have a ‘vertical’ (z-axis) line drawn on it.

    This makes my brain hurt.

  2. MDH may be onto something, because the idea that “Wednesday + 2 Days” could POSSIBLY be interpreted as meaning “Monday” confuses, frustrates, and angers me.

  3. I’ve come to realize that “pushed back” does not mean what I think it means. I think pushed back in time actually means pushed forward in time.

    (ie, a noon meeting is now at 1 – is pushed back, or pushed forward? I am so confused.)

  4. Like a lot of similar work, this study seems to be over generalizing human diversity. I’m apparently a “Monday” person, yet probably most of my friends and acquaintances would say I’m the angriest person they know. This reminds me of the Asperger’s test involving drink-buying scenarios and cup size.

  5. Or maybe they’re just pissed off that they planned their workload to be ready for a Wednesday meeting and now someone’s messing with their Monday or Friday?

  6. Heh, I had to re-read that first paragraph a bunch of times before I “got it.” I was like “anyone who would say two days after Wednesday is Monday needs some mental help..” before I more carefully read it.

    I guess I am a “moving through time” person – no surprise then that I spend 95% of my work day angry beyond all possible belief.

  7. “Here’s a test: let’s say a meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been moved forward two days. What is the new day of the meeting? If you think it’s Friday, you imagine time as something you move through. If you think it’s Monday, you think of time as something that passes by you.”

    I think I know why the Monday people are more pleasant. The cognitively impaired tend to be very friendly.

  8. And… just as I clicked “submit” I just realized why there was an alternate meaning. Also, I helped proved the point of the article.

    What is it about the submit button that gets me thinking more than typing does?

  9. OK I get it – so the question is, which direction is “forward” – “forward into the future”, or “forward out of the future”.

    I tired to think about the moving through time vs. time moving toward me dichotomy, but I immediately got into semi-mystical thinking on the nature of dimensions, Flatland style. This gave me a headache, but nowhere near a conclusion…

  10. English language and culture “face” the future. Looking forward to a party, looking back at our lives.

    Some other culture (I wish I could remember which) view time the other way around, their reasoning being you can see the past quite well, but they are relatively blind to their future.

    So I looked forward to posting this, and am looking back to other peoples’ comments. %^}

    See you on Monday.



  11. (e.g. a meeting has moved forward two days from Sunday to Wednesday – please highlight the new day on the screen)

    This example doesn’t work in either system. I’m a programmer. Counting errors like make me stressed out and frustrated.

  12. So because I think about an office-styled question using the common definitions of workplace words and phrases, I’m angry?

    Well, actually, my answer had to do with the fact that from my experience meetings only get rescheduled about 30 minutes before they are scheduled to take place. Therefore, when I read the question, I assumed it was the Wednesday in question and any ambiguity about what “forward” means did not come into play because I ruled out the possibility that the meeting had been rescheduled to a day that already happened.

  13. I guess since I always think that things that have been moved forward in time happen later than things that have not moved forward, I must be in a continually angry state.

    I think that most people will think it is Friday simply because most people have studied history and seen a TIMELINE. You hear people like Carl Sagan say that way back on New Year’s Eve of last year there was a Big Bang and here in the last seconds of December 31 humankind comes on the scene. Or ideas of Evolution – moving forward in time one-celled organisms became primates. You don’t want to be a degenerate – which is to say, revert *back* to a *prior* form, you want your species to evolve into something possibly better adapted to a future – forward-moving…(which is to say people tend (wrongly) to think of Evolution as Teleological which is wrong, but serves the point here…)

    In the Bible so-and-so begot so-and-so – you move backwards and forwards on genealogical trees. You have descendants who will carry your name forward into the future.

    There are successions of kings and geological eras – moving forward from the Precambrian, we come to the Cambrian.

    Someone has a long unimportant thing to say in a meeting the person in charge of the meeting finally has to say “Let’s move ahead”.

    That’s how we think about time in Western Culture at least.

  14. Besides “Back to the Future” would be a pretty dumb title and not a catchy one if most people didn’t think the answer was Friday.

  15. Would you be angrier: (a) hacking through thick jungle; or (b) sitting in a cool stream, letting the water wash over you?

    letting the days go by….

  16. @#10
    “I think I know why the Monday people are more pleasant. The cognitively impaired tend to be very friendly.”

    Apparently you haven’t been to any of the Town Hall meetings about health care reform then.

  17. Asking this on a Wednesday kind of confuses the issue, since a meeting scheduled for today could not possible be rescheduled for two days ago so most folks reading this on a Wednesday would think Friday no matter how they think about time.

  18. If a meeting has been pushed forward 2 days from Wednesday, I would assume it would then be on Monday. Forward being forward in time. The meeting was 48 hours away, now it’s only 24 hours away.

    But, I have made this mistake before so I would see when my coworkers were going to be there and that’s when I would go too.

    If a meeting has been pushed back 2 days from Monday, I would think it would then be on Friday. Pushed back would mean pushed away from me – not 24 hours but 48 hours away.

    This conundrum has always felt like the whole up hill/down hill thing. It’s all down hill from here, to me means things are going to get easier. It’s all uphill from here means things are getting harder. I do know that not everyone thinks this way.

  19. I find it very strange to think moving a meeting forward could mean making it later. For me, forward means moving a calendar event closer to me, and back, farther away (into the future).

    For example, when a project deadline slips, I hear people talk about deployment being pushed back, not moved forward.

  20. @ 13

    I never thought of moving from Wednesday to Monday as a way of moving forward in time, but I guess you’re right.

    I thought it was some kind of ‘insert two days'(Thursday and Friday) between Wednesday and the meeting, and, skipping the non-working weekend, they arrive at Monday.

  21. Are they sure they don’t have cause and effect confused? Or for that matter, cause and correlation?

    Seems to me that the way you normally think about the flow of time could have a great impact on your general outlook.

  22. Without reading the linked article, Mark’s synopsis is illustrating the ambiguity of language and how priming is used to bias the disambiguation. Clear your mind (difficult to do) and read again:

    Here’s a test: let’s say a meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been moved forward two days. What is the new day of the meeting? If you think it’s Monday, you think of time as something that passes by you. If you think it’s Friday, you imagine time as something you move through.

    Seeing “Monday” first can help prime the disambiguation of what “moved forward” means.

    Incidentally, in Mandarin, 一前 (yi qian) means “earlier” or “past” — but also “in front of” — which sounds like crazy-talk in English, since things in the past are supposed to be “behind you”. …Except, the English word “before” does the same thing: “before” in time is behind you, “before” in space is in front of you.

    It’s a miracle that anyone (even claims to) understands what anyone else is talking about.

  23. When people say to me at work that the time for a meeting is pushed forward, it means earlier. Pushing the meeting back means later. Does this mean I have a friendlier workplace than most?

  24. I’m always slightly disconcerted by those day-planners that show each hour of the day as a row, with 8 a.m. being up top and time moving downward to 5 p.m. at the bottom. In my mind the day starts at the bottom and moves upward, so that 5 p.m. should be at the top.

  25. Everyone uses backward to mean later, so how can forward not mean earlier?

    We talk about meetings in relation to ourselves, not to a time line. That’s why it’s ‘push’ back, and ‘bring’ forward.

    Moving forward in time is not the same as moving forward in relation to us (in the present).

  26. #1: If you think of an object “facing the ceiling” as having no vertical axis, you are more likely to have your brain hurt by such a description.

    #14: Pratchett’s Discworld trolls have such a backwards idea of time. He may well have poached the concept from someone else though, that is his style.

  27. I deal with people constantly who use language in incorrect or ambigious ways… so “move forward” means different things depending on when they tell me.

    If someone tells me on Wednesday or later that the meeting was “moved forward 2 days,” I’ll assume Monday. If they tell me on Tuesday or earlier, I’ll assume Friday (unless it’s Monday, in which case I’ll read from their level of tension whether they mean today or five days from now).

    Keep in mind I deal with lawyers who give me EXTREMELY URGENT directions to move terabytes of data to “different memory,” and I don’t have the luxury of asking “do you mean a different harddrive, different RAM chips, or a different server?”

  28. If I had a meeting at 1 o’clock and it was moved forward 2 hours, did I miss it?

    This was discussed at the meeting. You were not there. I drank your milkshake.

  29. I agree with #23 completely.

    In the business world, I hear phrases like “We’ll push the deadline up.” or “We can move the goal forward a few days” to signify something happening sooner.

    I hear things like “we’ll go ahead and move the deadline back a couple of weeks” and that signifies that it is going to take more time and not less.

    I really wasn’t aware that there were people that parsed it in the opposite way. I am amazed at that those that thought the “Monday” people don’t think correctly.

  30. @#29 BEELZEBUDDY

    Place a piece of paper on the table in front of you. The vertical (z-axis) is coming straight up out of the table.

    I think you misread the word ‘line’ as ‘axis’in my earlier post, but regardless, you can’t draw a vertical line on a horizontal plane.

  31. Personally I find the buttons on my Cable box/TV remote control infuriating: Why should the ‘page up’ button have a plus sign on it when the channel numbers go down (become less?) as I move up? Or am I moving the channels down, like a microfiche at the library?

    Aargh. I want a scroll-wheel.

  32. I don’t see it as a fencepost error because its not a logic problem with a correct answer.
    Personally, I encounter this daily at my job, where I schedule customer’s lunch deliveries for weeks at a time (They call on Friday and schedule deliveries for the following Monday-Friday lunches). When someone calls on Monday to say “The Thursday noon meeting was pushed back an hour, so I need to change the time,” I always ask “What time do I need to change it to?” and half of the customers say 1:00 while the other half say 11:00!
    I should monitor from now on if my customers’ perception of “pushed forward,” etc, coorelates with how f-ing difficult they are on the phone. (80% of our customers are awesome, the other 20% are a nightmare and impossible to please!)

  33. A couple of wrenches to toss in:

    I’m a move-through timer, but I don’t necessarily think of it as moving forward. The year is a giant, broad ring, tilted about 30 degrees from the horizontal with August at the top end. I move alongside it, basking in the different colored glows of different times of year.

    I would think of the meeting as probably on Monday but not assume it. This is not because the past is forward for me, but it would be forward for the event, which is facing me. (Obviously.)

    I’m also very often mildly annoyed, but almost never actually angry.

    So, that.

  34. I think the problem is that, if you have never worked in a corporate business environment you don’t hear people say they will “push something forwards”, meaning “make it happen sooner”.

    It seems like an active v. passive problem. The way I think of time it is something to travel through. I push forward towards my goals as I move through time.

    These people in offices going to meetings are letting the meeting happen to them. It is like a monster from the future that is getting closer and closer to them as they just stand there. The monster/meeting is “being forward” – *it* is moving forwards towards them.

    So maybe more assertive people are naturally more agressive / angrier, and maybe more passive people who can handle working in offices and having meetings always feel helpless and victimized as things like monsters from the future and meetings come at them.

    I also don’t know what “metrics” means.

  35. This seems almost more like a dialect question than anything else. If someone tells me a meeting is ‘moved forward,’ that means ‘sooner’ to me. ‘Pushed back’ means ‘later.’

    Similarly, if someone says ‘torch,’ I think of a flaming brand, not a flashlight, and ‘boot’ is footwear only. But the only thing that proves is that I’m not British. Assuming it also proved that I liked burritos, or felt nervous, or didn’t shower this morning would be a ludicrous non-sequitor.

    I’m sure other people interpret ‘moved forward’ differently than I do, and I can’t imagine that there’s any deeper meaning to it.

  36. Its a case of confusing semantics. I get it if it is phrased “moved UP” not forward. This is stupid. Eastern cultures see the future as something behind BTW.

  37. My final rant:

    “In his “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Walter Benjamin uses a Paul Klee painting, Angelus Novus, as his point of departure for thesis number nine. “This is how one pictures the Angel of History: His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.”

  38. @39 AELFSCINE

    I disagree – it’s not a dialect question at all: it’s whether you (individually) perceive the meeting as ‘us’ (facing the same direction as you) or ‘them’ (opposing you and thus facing opposite you. It’s one thing to perceive the past as in front of you as opposed to behind you, but entirely another to view a meeting as something you’re part of vs. something you’re being challenged by.

    I wonder what the proportion of people who view the meeting moving ‘forward’ as being later in time are in charge of said meetings, or who participate actively.. And from that, whether the people who are a$$holes are, in fact, the people in charge.

  39. and then there are those of us who grunt and carry on, knowing that we will skip any meeting anyway and if it is important enough, someone will come tell us what is going on while we are doing the actual work.

  40. Here’s another calendar issue: If I say “The meeting is next Friday”, how many days until the meeting?

  41. So is the meeting on Monday or Friday? Seriously – I’ll be in the office both days, just come and get me.

  42. ah!! i just got it! i kept thinking “how can it be monday? that skips at least a day, if you’re talking the standard work week. why is the number of days different for people who aren’t angry?”

    the problem is the actually the concept of “forward” as it applies to time, not the number of days, it’s whether “forward” means going into the future or the past (i guess people that think “forward” is in the past do so because it’s “closer” to now? it doesn’t make much sense. i would still think of moving “forward” in time). it’s just not stated very clearly.

  43. I live all moments simultaneously. I laugh at your unevolved four-dimensional concepts like ‘weeks’, ‘meetings’ and ‘offices.

  44. @ Takuan 45: O_O Apparently I still have much to learn about the passage of time.

    @ Phikus 46: lol

  45. This to me seems to be a simple mis-use of the term “forward” in this context.

    In most corporate parlance, meetings are either “pushed/moved back” (later in time) or “moved up” (earlier in time).

    If you re-asked the question as: a meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday has been moved down. What day is the meeting for? you would make me as perplexed.

  46. After being enlightened by my “monday” friends, I realize exactly what my issue is with the study.

    Originally I thought that the only acceptable instance of thinking “monday” was in the spur of the moment. This would be a _true_ fencepost error.

    But that is not the case!! You see the monday person thinks of it in terms of dissecting corporate parlance. In corporate parlance, when a colleague says “moving a meeting _back_” they imply delaying it, and therefore it is moved into the FUTURE. “Moving it _forward_” therefore means to someone dissecting corporate parlance to be the opposite of delaying it, or moving it _earlier_ than it was intended.

    This is the real issue with the study: it omits the observation of the perversion of corporate parlance. The reality is that we have been brainwashed by a commonly used misleading expression of the corporate world, and end up over dissecting the meaning of the phrase.

    We all know time isnt linear anyway! I will admit I’m an angry person, even though I think that “friday” is the only acceptable answer.

  47. In the words of my friend

    “It’s a question of comparative linguistics, not temperament”

  48. Wow, it took me a while to understand how Monday could be two days forward from Wednesday. In other words, don’t ever use “forward” in relation to the calendar, because it is too ambiguous.

  49. “…the monday person thinks of it in terms of dissecting corporate parlance.

    Funny thing, I never have meetings outside of work. If I did, I would certainly be angry about it.

  50. #32 has got me thinking… If I just go with my immediate hunches without thinking about corporate parlance, “forward” is toward the future, but “up” is toward the past. Weird.

  51. I think the use of the word forward is what screws people up here more than anything. If the problems had been moving something back 2 days, everyone would say Friday. I don’t ever hear anyone talking about moving something forward, it’s up to make it sooner, or back to make it later. But since I don’t see how anyone could think of back as sooner, I’m still surprised people could think of forward as later.

  52. @71

    I think people seeing forward as moving later (this includes myself) are used to working with the timelines and gantt charts common in a corporate office.

    so to me, not only does forward = later… it also means to the right!

  53. FieldSurgeon,

    I have no love (or use) for corporate linguistics (I find them mostly repellant, and am never in that environment), but the action of bringing forward and pushing back, meaning sooner and later, respectively, is entirely logical and correct to my brain.

    Felix Mitchell @28 says it perfectly, for me. It isn’t about timelines, it’s about people describing plannable time (the future) in natural, physical metaphors.

    So, no timeline, there is only the future before us, and we push away from us (later, into the future) or pull forward to us (sooner, out of the future).

    For me, there are no mental gymnastics or linguistic perversions involved.

  54. Dr. Quinn: That shockwave created a subspace fracture.

    Stormy: Take that, subspace!

    Dr. Quinn: Shut up.

    Stormy: No

  55. #27, #35, I tend to view weeks and days horizontally, from left to right (like on a calender), with months and years being vertical.

    #34, no one really understands day light savings time.

    As for the original question, I first thought it was Friday as others had because I assumed that today was Wednesday and the meeting couldn’t be moved to the past.

    Really I think it’s just a poorly worded question that you could take either way if you assumed something wrong like I did. The better way would be to say “The meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday has been moved to Monday.”


    Interesting – All of my programming coworkers immediately responded with Friday.

    My issue with the study is that there is no causal relationship to justify the inferences of your temperament based on the respondent’s philosophy of time perception. A colleague had an interesting (and possibly somewhat cynical) take on one potential association with temperament. His reasoning:

    People who have spent time in the corporate world assume that a meeting is never rescheduled earlier. Knowing full well that this question was posed ambiguously, they omit the term “forward” and think strictly in terms of the future. Therefore it may be not that people who have a “you moving time” philosophy are angrier, but rather people who have been subjected to corporate culture are angrier.

    I think I prefer this interpretation the most, if only because it is humorously consoling.

  57. To be clear, I don’t speak to the temperament issue, just the linguistics. I wonder, how did you present the scenario to your pals?

    I just did, to my housemate, like this: Next week, you have a meeting. It is moved forward two days. What day is the meeting on?

    He answered Monday.

    I find no credence with the presumption that a “meeting is never rescheduled earlier”, I’m afraid. So can only presume it is one of those things, that commonly gets interpreted differently. A binary issue.

  58. At my job, “push back” is corporate-ese for “that isn’t going to happen.” As in, “I’m getting some push back about that new hire request.” Oddly, it doesn’t have anything to do with time, or meetings.

    More substantially, both usages make me want to beat the speaker to death with a 2×4. I guess you could call me angry?

  59. There is something cognitively or linguistically strange here. I was a “Friday” person to the extent that I couldn’t even understand “Monday” as an answer. On the other hand, once I got it, when I thought about a meeting being “moved forward two hours,” I realized that I would think that it was earlier. I can’t figure out if the different result is because I started out knowing that today is Wednesday, and that no one would reschedule a meeting into the past, coloring my understanding of “forward,” or whether my experience just told me that meetings are never moved days earlier, but are occasionally moved hours earlier.

  60. My wonderful fiancee and I had a great personal test of this very experiment. We both read boingboing quite regularly, and this afternoon we discussed this particular article.

    We had a great chuckle when realizing that she said “Friday” and I said “Monday”. The best part of it though is the fact that neither of us at first saw how it could be the other way. From my point of view, the only way I could see it being Friday was by moving forward three days, skipping the weekend. It wasn’t until we discussed it that I realized the ambiguity of the direction “forward”. She had a very similar perspective as well, not seeing how anyone could see it being anything but Friday.

    Given our personalities, that even ties in quite nicely with the link to anger.

  61. I’d always thought that the British usage was to ‘bring’ a meeting forward, meaning to make it closer in time. So I’d be a bit surprised if any Brit answered with Friday.

  62. Is it just me, or can this all be avoided by using “moved up” to mean sooner, and “moved back” to mean later?

    I had a similarly frustrating argument with a co-worker once when he refused to believe 12:00PM is noon.

  63. Since time only moves in one direction, I would perceive forward as being ahead of the present. Therefore, two days forward is two days down the track, so to speak.

    I do not really see any relative difference between moving forward through time and time moving over oneself, since both views involve time moving in the same direction relative to the viewer.

    I guess I perceive time as a train moving somewhere, and the car I am in I call the present.

  64. #83: I’ve seen digital clocks in Japan that used 0:00PM for noon and 0:00AM for midnight, which makes a lot more sense from a modular-arithmetic point of view (not that most people care, and those who do probably prefer the 24-hour system anyway).

    Data point about the Monday/Friday quiz: I thought “Friday”, but that may not count since English is not my native language.

    In my Apple II days, I wondered why most authors would draw the memory map of the computer backwards, with address 0 at the top and address 65535 (the last addressable byte) at the bottom, while still calling memory with large addresses “high memory”. The same applies to the stack diagrams in Hewlett Packard calculator manuals, which would show the “top-of-stack” register at the bottom.

  65. I went with Monday instantly. I can’t imagine thinking a meeting being moved forward means it actually comes later. Back is further away, forward is closer. I think I apply this invariantly to all such situations.

  66. I guess the fact that it took me 20 minutes to figure out how the meeting could be on Monday means that my anger levels must be on par with those of Sam Kinison

  67. JEEZ. Everyone knows the days of the week go from the left to the right and are colored brown. Today is in the middle. The past is to the left.

    Also, the hours between 3 and 6 are the slowest in the day, and has little to do with being in work or not. Even happened when I was a kid.

    Um. Or is that just me?

  68. I guess the next time I want to back out of a parking space I’ll put my car in drive instead of reverse since we are apparently supposed to be living in BACKWARDS WORLD. I AM SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW.

  69. When you change the channel on TV to a higher number, where does the old channel go? I think it goes up above the screen.

  70. You all missed the point of confusion.

    This isn’t a “forward” vs. “backward” issue.

    The problem is that the meeting was *pushed*.

    Anything pushed moves forward from the perspective of the pusher (hence the aggression of the “Friday” crowd) but moves backwards from the perspective of the person pushed.

    Okay, I know that’s still not clear, but remember that English text and calendars show movement through text and time as moving to the right, and that (i.e., right) is forward.

    So anyone who came up with “Monday” as the answer is either pushed often, terribly creative, or both. Probably “born with a sense of laughter and a sense that the world is mad.”

  71. One reason the question is confusing is because I naturally think of rescheduling something as being done at the last minute (maybe it’s because I’m a procrastinator)–if it’s Tuesday and they say the meeting has been pushed two days, I won’t even bother to pay attention to whether they said “pushed back” or “pushed forward”, since for obvious reasons they can’t reschedule it to yesterday! It would make more sense if they said something like, “on Thursday you get a memo that a meeting which had been scheduled for next Wednesday has been pushed back by two days”.

  72. #91 THEGID

    You’ll find that the original post does not mention “pushing” but merely says “moved forward”. Thus, this is how I interpreted the statement, no pushing at all, and yes it means Monday to me, and I can’t see why anyone would think it would mean Friday.

    Would anyone really say “pushed forward”?. I would always say brought forward.

    Maybe the response to this scenario is that in general I would say it would be much more likely for meeting to be rescheduled at a later rather than an earlier date. A different scenario might garner a different response.

  73. What a lot of semantic twaddle! It is clear that a lot of people did not go to the link and read the article. There was not ONE study but several.

    The conclusions arrived at (there is a joke there) seem somewhat contrived. Without seeing the methods used it is impossible to determine the correctness of the individual pieces of research. However, the one piece of research where ‘anger’ is mentioned falls somewhat flat on its assumption that angry people see themselves moving forward in time:

    “they made it so the re-arranged event was either anger-provoking or neutral.”

    Human nature will naturally aim to delay or put off an unfavourable event. It does NOT make them angrier people.

    What twaddle this is…

    Numbers (according to my mathematical knowledge) are figures used to represent the progression of values that increase at a determined equal quantity and are used to represent the first value added to itself in a fixed progression (i.e., moving forward) from the prior (before) value. [NOTE TO SPECIALISTS IN MATHEMATICS: Do not muddy the waters will formula etc. to disprove the BASIC point I am making here. It will only make you look silly]

    The arbitrary names assigned to what we consider ‘days’ are used to assign a secondary value to a measured progression of time (essentially at the ‘local’ level). Therefore, a Monday event occurs BEFORE a Friday event.

    Any meeting moved FORWARD by two days will be on Friday. Any meeting moved BACK by two days will be on a Friday.

    It is simply corporate speak and poor linguistics. Not anger. All you have to do is think outside the box…

  74. I feel like I am in bizarro land. Are there really people out there that think “pushing a deadline back 2 days” is synonymous with “pushing a deadline forward 2 days”? Clearly pushing a meeting forward 2 days from Wednesday moves it to Monday.

  75. Are there seriously people out there that consider “moving a meeting back” to be synonymous with “moving a meeting forward”? Of course the meeting is on Monday.

  76. I think it all depends on what you are talking about… if you move the “party” forward two days I’d think it’s on Monday, but if my dentist appointment gets moved forward two days then I’d think it was Friday. I really think a lot of it has to do with whether or not you want to be at the “forwarded” occasion.

  77. This has nothing to do with perceptions of time and everything to do with culture.

    I assumed Monday, since common speech would be, “Bring the meeting forward”.
    At no point did I stop to consider whether I was talking about the meeting as being moved forward in the time dimension vs. the meeting as a 4D object moved forward in my direction.

  78. Wow. I had to read that several times too, because I couldn’t get past the part where it says “if you think it’s Friday…”. I kept jumping back and thinking “he just said it was Monday, didn’t he?”. I had to read through many of the comments to even understand how someone could possibly think it was Friday and I still don’t really get it.

  79. Maybe the Friday people are angry all the time because they can never figure out what’s going on.

  80. @98, what’s so hard to get? Friday is 2 days forward in time from Wednesday, so there’s a perfectly sensible reason to think “moved forward 2 days” would indicate Friday. On the other hand, Monday is 2 days closer to our current time, so there’s also a perfectly sensible reason to think “moved forward 2 days” would indicate Monday.

  81. I can not express how much I LOVE how angry people are that they chose Friday in the little test, and how ridiculous this whole thing is, because this doesn’t prove anything, and if they ever got their hands on the IDIOTS who think the answer was MONDAY they’re going KILL these MORONS who can’t figure out what F#%KING FORWARD means!!!! ARGH!! Oh, and they’re not angry people.

    I LOVE IT.

    As a side thought, do we all agree that if the meeting had been moved “up” two days it would be on Monday? Up and forward seem synonymous to me, but perhaps I’m just crazy. Calm, but crazy.

  82. I don’t understand how FRIDAY IS TWO DAYS FORWARD OF WEDNESDAY.

    In this case, both Monday and Friday are in the future, so it’s not a past vs future argument. Both items are in the future.

    It makes no sense at all.

    “Let’s move this schedule forward and get done sooner! Or let’s accelerate the schedule on this project forard.” is the context I hear the word FORWARD in.

    Do you guys mean that moving something on a schedule FORWARD is in relation to looking at a calendar and seeing what days come after Wednesday?

    Monday is BEFORE Wednesday (Forward of it). Friday (moved back)is after Wednesday. I can’t believe some people are so lost.

  83. Wow, I didn’t get this at all at first. When they said “Monday” I thought they meant the following Monday. I think I made that assumption because in my experience, meetings are always delayed, and I’m used to the terminology “moved up” to indicate that a meeting will happen earlier than expected. So I was very confused as to why someone would think the following Monday was two days from Wednesday. I obviously need more caffeine.

  84. @103: Totally. It’s been blowing my mind how much the thread itself lends support to the study’s conclusions.

    I’m smiling about it personally, so you know which day seemed obvious to me.

  85. @31 ANONYMOUS: Thank you so much for the reference to the Aymara language/culture that stands with their back to the future.


  86. I work with ETA dates all day. If you tell someone that their date has been pushed back, they will not be happy. Conversely, they will thank me for moving their date forward. The low foreheads who chose Friday can draw their own conclusion from this.

  87. I’m a Friday guy. I see “pushed back” as meaning further from now because pushing always makes things move away. So if someone said “We used to think Jesus was born 30BC but it was pushed back.” then I would assume something like 40BC.

    Imagining all events in time moving instead of yourself moving through time is similar to navigating by rotating your mental map when you turn instead of rotating an arrow representing yourself on a static north-is-up map. Both involve a choice between two coordinate systems: an egocentric one, and one in which less changes over time. I find that the latter type of people navigate better than the former, so I postulate that Friday people are better at calendrical calculation. I also postulate that being a Friday person correlates positively with being a “rotate the arrow not the map” person.

  88. I thought the meeting was on Friday, and I’m one of the least angry people I know, but I guess there are always outliers. If it said the meeting was “brought forward” or “pulled forward”, I might have thought it was Monday, because those imply drawing something towards oneself. But with the neutral “moved”, I assume that “forward” is relative to the calendar, not relative to my presence in time or whether I am facing the meeting. I also visualized “forward” as moving to the right.

  89. When I read the prompt I was simply confused – I didn’t jump to either Fri or Mon, I wanted clarification. It’s the same with the Uphill, Downhill wording – there is no common usage, and so I would always ask for clarification.

    I like the method generally accepted in the Army: Left and right. If something just became sooner, it was pushed left, if later, pushed right. Works for pretty much all English speakers – and anyone who is accustomed to reading right to left.

  90. I’m a Friday person. After a few frustrating minutes, I figured out how it could also be Monday. This got me thinking, though. We read English from left to right. Hence, for a normal work week (M.Tu.W.Th.F.), it seems natural to think that Friday is two days forward (ahead) of Wednesday if one is “moving through” time. But then I thought about how Arabs, on the other hand, read from right to left. And it made sense how it might be natural for them to think that two days forward of Wednesday would mean going back in time, or in other words having time “pass by” – from right to left. This made sense as many Arabs want to go backwards in time to the 7th century, but it does not explain why they are so angry.

  91. I’m with #111 – I could not choose Friday or Monday. I insisted on asking for clarification because I can see both options at the same time and I wanted to know which one the other person meant.

    Even after reading the comments and hearing everyone else’s justifications for why their answer is the “correct” one, I still can’t feel any particular emphasis on one answer or the other.

    I would just ask which it was.


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