Workplace Chronotype Bias, Flexible Scheduling, and Performance Beliefs

Lauren O Gilmer, Purdue University


Workers who request a flexible schedule to accommodate their biologically-determined sleep-wake cycle (chronotype) may face prejudice if supervisors perceive them, particularly “night owls”, as lazy or unconscientious. Such bias may be exacerbated in organizational cultures characterized by stability and control. Thus, chronotype bias was examined in a 2 (rigid vs. flexible organizational norms) X 3 (morningness chronotype, eveningness chronotype, educational pursuit/control as reason for a flexible schedule request) online scenario study. Participants were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk (N=398) and were instructed to act as managers to decide whether to approve a fictitious employee’s request for a flexible schedule. Organizational culture and reason for schedule request were orthogonally manipulated in the scenarios. Ps completed measures of schedule approval (including an open-ended justification item), beliefs about the employee’s performance (job-specific task performance, contextual performance, personal discipline, and conscientiousness), and manipulation checks, as well as measures of their own chronotype. Ps were less likely to approve a flexible schedule request for employees with chronotype-based requests (both morningness and eveningness) compared to control (educational pursuit/control request). Task performance beliefs mediated the effect. Organizational norms had both a direct and moderating effect on schedule approval, such that approval was higher and chronotype bias was weakened in the flexible norm condition compared to the rigid norm condition. Ps’ own chronotype had no direct or moderating effect on schedule approval. Qualitative content analysis of Ps’ justification for the schedule approval decision revealed that Ps justified their decision on the impact of schedule approval on the organization.




Stockdale, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Cognitive psychology

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