PB436      Half Unit
Behavioural Science for Managing Work, People, and Time

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Laura M Giurge


This course is available on the MSc in Behavioural Science, MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Time is the most pervasive aspect of our lives. Every day we make decisions (or decisions are made for us) about how or with whom to spend our finite time in our personal and professional life. But what is time? How do we calculate the value of an hour, or the value of human life? Why are we more motivated to start a new goal on New Year’s or on our birthday than on a regular weekday? Why is it that time sometimes goes by faster or slower? What can we do to address gender inequality in time-use at work and at home? Is there an optimal way to allocate our time for well-being and productivity? How can leaders support employees to be productive at work and disconnect outside of work? And if time is our most precious resource, why is time theft not a crime?

This course seeks to address these questions and more. The insights presented in this course draw from a variety of disciplines including behavioural science as well as individual, social, and organisational psychology, and will include real-life examples across industries and cultures. Students taking this course will gain a multidisciplinary perspective on managing work, people, and time; will learn to think critically about their own experience and use of time, and how this shapes their expectations and behaviours in their personal life, at work, and in society; they will be able to recognize the psychological and behavioural barriers that prevent them from pursuing activities that are beneficial for them; will gain knowledge about how innovations and the growing knowledge economy has changed the way individuals think about time; and will learn how to formulate solutions that enable positive behavioural change in the way they use and experience time across all aspects of their lives. Afterall, how people spend their time is how they live their life.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

This schedule is tentative and may change as the term proceeds. All changes to the class schedule will be announced in class and/or on Moodle.

  • Time and the Person: Sessions 1-3 will focus on time at the individual level and will cover topics such as the difference between subjective and objective time, the psychological biases that lead people to misuse time, and potential strategies to overcome these biases.
  • Time and Work/Organisations: Sessions 4-6 will focus on time at work and at the collective level (e.g., teams, organisations) and will cover topics such as how teams manage time, the different ways in which organisations (un)intentionally misuse employees’ time, or promote gender inequality, and the role of temporal structures for collaboration.
  • Time and Society: Sessions 7-9 will focus on time at the societal level and will cover topics related to the drivers of time poverty in developed and underdeveloped countries, the interplay between time and environmental behaviour, and cross-cultural differences in norms around time and work.
  • Temporal Legacy: Session 10 will bring together the three different levels and address the development of our temporal footprints and why they matter.

Each lecture/seminar will include a critical discussion of an academic or popular press article on the topic of that week. Some sessions will also include a discussion around existing interventions that help address ongoing challenges around managing work, people and time. There will be no teaching during the reading week (Week 6).

Formative coursework

Students will produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT that will combine various elements, such as goals and time-use exercises, an essay, and an in-class presentation. The essay will be peer-marked during the course, as giving constructive feedback is a necessary skill to succeed in the future of work and is best developed through practice.

Indicative reading

  • Blagoev, B., & Schreyögg, G. (2019). Why do extreme work hours persist? Temporal uncoupling as a new way of seeing. Academy of Management Journal, 62(6), 1818-1847.
  • Brodsky, A., & Amabile, T. M. (2018). The downside of downtime: The prevalence and work pacing consequences of idle time at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(5), 496–512.
  • Feldman, E., Reid, E. M., & Mazmanian, M. (2020). Signs of our time: Time-use as dedication, performance, identity, and power in contemporary workplaces. Academy of Management Annals, 14(2), 598-626.
  • Giurge, L. M., Whillans, A. V., & West, C. (2020). Why time poverty matters for individuals, organisations and nations. Nature Human Behaviour, 4(10), 993-1003.
  • Gonsalves, L. (2020). From face time to flex time: The role of physical space in worker temporal flexibility. Administrative Science Quarterly, 65(4), 1058-1091.
  • Pai, J., DeVoe, S. E., & Pfeffer, J. (2020). How income and the economic evaluation of time affect who we socialize with outside of work. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 161, 158-175.
  • Shipp, A. J. (2021). My fixation on time management almost broke me. Harvard Business Review.
  • Soman, D. (2001). The mental accounting of sunk time costs: Why time is not like money. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 14, 169–185.
  • Templeton, E. M., Chang, L. J., Reynolds, E. A., LeBeaumont, M. D. C., & Wheatley, T. (2022). Fast response times signal social connection in conversation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(4).
  • Young, C., & Melin, J. L. (2019). Time is a network good. Current Opinion in Psychology, 26, 23-27.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Students will produce a 2.500-word essay along with a 500-word annotated bibliography. The essay needs to be grounded in academic literature but will follow the structure of an op-ed article (e.g., Harvard Business Review style). In this essay, students will have to identify and evaluate a recent and critical time-related challenge in their personal or professional life, and propose an intervention to solve it.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills