Punctuality: Are you usually early, late, or right on time?
by Harris MacLeod in Politics Lab
Tue August 14, 9:25 a.m. BST
Are you early to a party, do you arrive just on time, or are you the fashionably late type? Perhaps you’ve been kept waiting by a friend a few too many times, or maybe you’ve got a first date off to a bad start by turning up late.
A nationally representative YouGov public opinion poll conducted last December revealed that 58% of UK adults rated their punctuality as ‘above average’, while 32% said it was ‘about average’ and 7% said they were ‘below average’ at being on time.
We thought it might inspire some discussion here in YouGov Labs too, and invited you to enlighten us as to your time-keeping abilities.
We asked, generally speaking, would you say that you are usually early, late or on time?
- The greatest proportion of those of you who took part told us you were usually early.
- The second largest lot of participants said they were on time.
- And the smallest proportion of you said you were usually late.
Next, we took a different slant on the subject to draw out the debate.
Evelyn Waugh, the author of Brideshead Revisited, argued that “Punctuality is the virtue of the bored”. Waugh was suggesting that bored people, or those who don’t have anything else to do with their time, tend to be on-time more than those who keep themselves well-occupied.
But what did panellists in Labs make of this? Not surprisingly, given the results of the first question, the largest proportion of participants said they either disagreed, or strongly disagreed with Evelyn Waugh’s suggestion that punctuality could be linked to boredom.
- Those who disagreed said that being on time is polite, and shows respect for others, while being late displays the opposite of care and consideration.
- You argued that showing up for things when you said you would is ‘a matter of principle’, and that punctuality is a quality of someone who knows how to manage their time, as opposed to someone who is bored.
- Many said they found Mr Waugh’s comment ‘arrogant’.
A smaller group of those who took part said they either agreed, or strongly agreed that ‘punctuality is the virtue of the bored.’
- They argued that people with lots of things going on typically have a harder time arriving early or on time, while for those who are not very busy it is easy to be punctual.
- Some of you said you thought people who are not very busy use their punctuality to make themselves appear righteous.
If you haven't shared with us already - tell us, how punctual are you? And what do you make of Mr Waugh's assertion? We want to hear your view!