How the time of the day affects our decisions (II) Afternoons and Insight

How the time of the day affects our decisions (II) Afternoons and Insight

                         Aftenoons and Insight

We saw in the previous article about the science of timing, that our performance is better during the mornings for more analytical problems.

One could imagine then, that doing all their work in this hours would be better, but the fact is that it depends enormously on the type of task we wish to undertake.

A way to demonstrate this is the so called coin problem.

                            The coin problem

selective focus photography of person holding coin

Imagine this situation, an antique dealer receives one day someone who brings a bronze coin in perfect state.

The coin has an emperor’s head on one side and the date 544 BC stamped on the other.

The antique dealer examines the coin-but instead of buying it, he calls the policeWhy?

These types of problems are called insight problems and they are characterized by the fact that their resolution is reliant on seeing something less obvious.

These insight problems are characterized by the fact that trying to solve them in a step by step way is many times unsucsesful since the information to solve it is in the text, but you also require a little bit of diffuse thinking.

The answer to the problem presented comes from the 544 BC stamped in the coin.

If you think about it how could they add 544 BC (Before Christ) before Christ was born. As such the coin should be counterfeit and calling the police is a reasonable course of action.

                                 Diffuse mode

reflection of landscape in clear glass ball

Many studies have shown that even for people who claim that the mornings are their best time to do work, still show trouble when dealing with this kind of problems.

If instead we present them this problems at times that are »non-optimal» they have a higher probability of solving them.

This non-optimal time is the timeframe between 4 and 6, which corresponds to the period of recovery after the through.

The reason why this period is better than the so-called »optimal» is due to the lack of »wariness» that our brain shows at this time and the fact that this reduced foccus also implies an easier time accessing the so-called diffuse mode.

By accessing this more transversal pathway that is based on non-evident connections we can approach insight problems better.

                      Time of the day and School

person wearing brown and white watch

 The differences we see on performance depending on the task and time could be translated into our school systems to make them more efficient.

It has been shown that as the day progresses the results that students of Danish schools obtained in subjects such as math decreased by the hour.

This could be due to the highly analytical nature of the subject and how the best time for most people to undergo analyticla tasks is during the morning.

Meaning that by not taking this into account we could be putting students, who perform their exams during the afternoon instead of the morning, into a disadvantage compared to their morning peers.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t make use of the hightening of the diffuse mode during the afternoons, since these periods could be used for more creative subjects such as art, or literature.

By making this shift students could make the most of their school life and increase their performance and satisfaction.


Taking into account the scientific evidence for a more efficient education system could help improve the motivation.

As a result improve the preparation of the students since seeing how well you can perform at your best could be a source of encouragement and a push towards personal growth.

For more articles about how our mind works and human behaviour follow the link. If you liked this post and want more subscribe to our newsletter.




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