Cognitive Daily

Today’s Slashdot poll covers some of the same territory as this week’s Casual Fridays study. Their poll asks “How Many Hours Of Work Do You Do Per Workday?” We asked two questions that get at the same concept: How much time to you spend at work per day, and how much of that time do you spend doing non-work activities. So how do CogDaily readers compare to Slashdotters? Not very well (or very well, depending on your perspective):

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It appears that Slashdot readers work much harder than CogDaily readers. Could that really be true? Or is it just an artifact of the way the question was asked? The comments section of the Slashdot article suggests that many readers interpreted the question to mean “how much time do you spend at work,” not necessarily how much of that time was actually spent working.

So, it seems, the way you ask the question is often just as important is the question you ask. On the other hand, the two different poll results could represent real differences in CogDaily’s readership versus Slashdot’s. I don’t think there’s any way to reassess CogDaily readers without spoiling the results, though. Any other explanations of why there’s such a dramatic difference in the two polls’ findings?

Comments

  1. #1 Lilian Nattel
    January 25, 2009

    Demographics–what are the diff in age/occupation?

  2. #2 Kevin Canini
    January 25, 2009

    You essentially asked how many hours people spend doing work *at work*. They asked how many hours people spend doing work (presumably counting time both at home and at work). I don’t know about most people, but I do a significant amount of work at home.

  3. #3 Rachel Cotterill
    January 25, 2009

    None of these questions make much sense without also asking how many hours an individual is contracted to work for. If someone works six hours in a day, it makes a huge difference whether they’re contracted to a 4-hour or 8-hour day.

    How do the results compare if you compare the Slashdot answers to the Cognitive Daily question about number of hours spent in work?

  4. #4 Dave Munger
    January 25, 2009

    Rachel:

    There’s still a bit of a difference — we didn’t quite ask the same questions, and slashdot had some more “slackerish” answer options like “unemployed.”

    If you assume every slashdotter was answering the “how many hours do you spend at work” question it does seem that CogDaily readers might work more total hours than Slashdotters. Here’s a graph comparing our “how many hours do you spend at work” with their responses.

    Yet Slashdotters still are more likely to work over 8 hours in a day, while CogDaily readers are more likely to work less than 8 hours.

  5. #5 Urban Garlic
    January 25, 2009

    How clean a separation do you suppose there is between Cognitive Daily and Slashdot readers? I read both, myself. In the interests of precision, when you say “readers”, I suppose you really mean “poll respondents”.
    For any of you feeling badly about being shown up by the Slashdot work ethic, I remind you of the standard Slashdot poll disclaimer:
    “This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you’re using these numbers to do anything important, you’re insane.”

  6. #6 bg
    January 25, 2009

    Maybe Slashdotters are just really big liars. ;)

  7. #7 gs
    January 25, 2009

    First, you may have a fair number of students responding on Cognitive Daily.

    Second, academics tend to blend work and non-work activities. We tend to be always working even when we’re not working, and not working even when we’re working. This is because we are given a lot of freedom and because many of us have our whole hearts invested in what we do. This is very different from someone who gets up and goes to work at 9, stays there even if there is no work to be done, leaves at 5, and doesn’t think about work until the next morning.

  8. #8 Donna B.
    January 26, 2009

    You might consider my demographic — not having a clue about what slashdot is really about, reading Cognitive Daily because I’m a retired lay science junkie looking for brain fodder… and, should I stop participating in the polls???

  9. #9 Danielle Rudder
    January 26, 2009

    I wonder if the results would have been different if the questions had asked “How Many Hours Of Work Do You Do Per WorkWEEK?” I mainly work from the home office, and I tend to prefer shorter workdays. So I usually work 5-6 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  10. #10 Lois
    January 26, 2009

    I read both slash dot and cog daily and I work over 8 hours a day … but then I’m British. Apparently one of the most most productive nations. Another variable??

  11. #11 Frank Sayre
    January 26, 2009

    IT workers consider reading /. to be work. Actually, all surfing is work, including reading news and looking at porn. Thus for the /.ers time at work = time on computer.

  12. #12 Funkopolis
    January 29, 2009

    Slashdot has 100x as many posts/day as cognitive daily, so I’d say the extra 2-6 hours per workday is actually spent keeping up with it. If you removed the slashdot-reading, most IT people would probably only work about 5 hours a day.

  13. #13 Allan
    January 31, 2009

    I used to work in IT and I still read /. every day. Now I teach philosophy, so I also read this blog on most days. But I have to admit, I did not take either poll. My opinion is that I had to put in a lot more hours “at work” in IT, but I actually work more now because I do a lot of reading and writing at home that is work related. In IT when I went home I did non-work activities.

  14. #14 Greg
    February 6, 2009

    IT is said to attract a greater-than-average number of people who are a couple of notches toward autism. As such, perhaps IT types are a little more obsessive/compulsive about their work, end thus end up spending more time doing it? Also, IT folks are stereotyped as having weak social skills, thus spending less time BSing with co-workers.