22 July 2014
People find it surprisingly hard to remember what day of the week it is, but they are better at remembering on Monday or Friday.

Researcher: Can you tell me what day of the week it is today?
Volunteer: (AFTER A PAUSE) Emm, ha. I’ve totally forgotten…
Researcher: Ok. Well have a go.
Volunteer: I can’t remember…
Researcher: It’s Thursday.

Recently we asked volunteers just to tell us the current day of the week. This was a fairly typical exchange!

This incredibly quick research study shows a lot about our relationship with the calendar. If you have ever struggled to remember what day of the week it is, you are in good company.

As part of this study, my colleagues and I collected data on each day of the working week. We timed how quickly people replied and interestingly, they were quicker to report the current day on a Friday and Monday, and slowest midweek.

Our results can tell us about how people’s memories work for days of the week, and how we represent the days. People have very rich and distinctive representations of a Monday and a Friday, but we represent the days in the middle of the week in ways that make them hard to distinguish from each other. In other words, when you ask someone to tell you about a Monday or a Friday they have a lot to say, but tend to draw a blank when it comes to describing a Wednesday for example.