Sep. 24, 2012 at 1:03 PM ET
In the cult classic “Office Space,” Peter Gibbons works with an annoyingly cheerful woman who replies to his grumpy behavior with the quip, “Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.” The line embodies what most of us believe about Mondays: that it is the worst day of the week. It turns out that while we feel happiest on Saturdays and Sundays, most of us don’t feel much bluer on Mondays than we do on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
“I have been interested in studying people’s mood in the moment as well as day-to-day as a technique for studying people,” explains Arthur Stone, a distinguished professor and vice chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University and author of a study of days of the week and mood patterns in the Journal of Positive Psychology.
“We know that psychosocial influences, especially work, can have an influence on our daily moods … we were curious as to how the days of the week impact our moods.”
Stone asked 340,000 subjects from a Gallup poll to rank their moods for that day. While most people ranked their Monday mood as being a bit blue, their mood wasn’t much worse on Monday than it was on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Even with Wednesday being “hump day,” there weren’t spikes in good feelings midweek. And people generally agree with Rebecca Black that Friday seemed like a great day (to get down and party), but didn’t thank God for Friday as much as they did for Saturday and Sunday.
“Friday is probably a day when you get a combination of work and positive stuff and it is not surprising that it came in somewhere between the levels of the weekend and Monday through Thursday,” he says.
When Stone asked people to recall their mood from the past, in hindsight they report Monday feeling bluer.
“They don’t experience Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday as different in real time and when you ask them in the past there is a discrepancy. It probably has to do with how people judge things in the past,” Stone explains.
Stone also analyzed whether factors such as age, marital status, or work status, impact how people felt on different days of the week.
Even though retired people could, in theory, get down every day, they also experienced mood boosts on Saturday and Sunday. Married people liked weekends a bit more than their divorced counterparts, but Stone attributes that to the fact that married couples are generally happier than divorced people. He also noticed that younger people feel a bigger boost in mood over the weekend than older people, but everyone still feels pretty good on Saturday and Sunday.
“I was surprised at how systematically the effect of the age [was]. I didn’t know that as you went from one decade 20 -29 to 30 -39 to 40-49 [the effect on mood would lessen so systematically], he says. “It went down regularly each decade.”
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