What Punctuality Says about You

From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we lie down to sleep at night, time is never far from our thoughts. We unconsciously keep track of time, sensing it to be too short or too long, choosing whether to do something before or after, now or later. We plan our days according to some schedule of time, from a fixed hourly routine to approximations of morning, noon, evening, and night. And we recount our experiences as they relate to what was happening “at the time.”

We also spend a considerable amount of time keeping track of other people’s time, judging them to be early, on time, or late. Time is not only a unit by which we measure the day, but also a unit by which we often describe ourselves and others (“I always try to arrive early”; “He is running late, as usual”; “She is always on time”). Perhaps inevitably, we relate such descriptions to assumptions about personal character. For example, describing someone as “always late” may imply judgments that the person is disorganized, flighty, rude, or careless.

Do our individual attitudes toward time and punctuality accurately reflect aspects of our own personalities? And, if so, how do those aspects influence the assumptions we make about others?

In an effort to figure this out, we asked our readers to agree or disagree with the statement, “You are rarely late for appointments.” Based on their responses, we can answer in the affirmative – yes, our attitudes toward time and punctuality are reflections of our personalities – and we can begin to understand how they influence our perceptions of others.

Types

Looking at the data above, a definite pattern emerges: Judging personality types formed the peaks of agreement and Prospecting types formed the valleys. In fact, the Tactics aspect exerted a significant 11% influence on our readers’ agreement with the statement, meaning that the Prospecting trait alone (i.e. regardless of other factors such as age, culture, or environment) makes people 11% more likely to be late for appointments.

Additional traits that correlated with higher levels of agreement were the Observant, Feeling, Introvert, and Assertive traits. We can conclude, therefore, that punctuality in general is a reflection of these personality traits – the more of these traits that one has, the more likely one is to be a punctual person. Let’s review these trends in more detail by looking at the Roles.

Roles

Sentinels (81% agreeing)

Distinguished by their Judging trait, Sentinel personality types lead the Roles with the highest rate of agreement: 81% report themselves as rarely being late for appointments. As a group known for their conscientiousness and reliability, Sentinels can certainly be expected to be punctual people. They strive to be models of discipline, hard work, and responsibility. Since Sentinels consider these attributes to be very important, they will inevitably evaluate others’ punctuality, or lack thereof, according to these terms. Assertive Logisticians (ISTJ-A) (85%), in particular, being the most practical and fact-minded of the Sentinels, were the most likely personality type in this Role to be concerned with being on time.

Analysts (69%)

The Energy aspect exerts the second greatest influence on punctuality. Analysts’ Intuitive style can cause them to become distracted as they focus on exciting new ideas and possibilities, a habit that is not always conducive to punctuality. Still, prioritizing logic above all else, Analysts (especially the Introverted personality types) also associate punctuality with having good sense. Again, we see the heavy influence of the Judging trait, as Architects (INTJ) and Commanders (ENTJ) had higher-than-average agreement rates (82% and 80%, respectively) compared to their Prospecting counterparts, Logicians (INTP) and Debaters (ENTP) (each agreeing at 60%).

Assertive Architects (INTJ-A) had the highest score (87%) of all the personality types, not just in their respective Role. Punctuality is a necessity for Architects, who carefully plan their days, allotting a set time for each activity in order of priority. Architects assign high priority to appointments, in particular, since they believe that their own time, as well as others’, needs to be considered and respected. Furthermore, Analyst personalities are more likely to judge habitually tardy people unfavorably, assuming that they are irresponsible or undisciplined. It’s hard for those who place such high value on punctuality to understand how others can treat it lightly.

In contrast, among the slightly cynical Logicians, only 60% identified themselves as rarely late for appointments. Logicians constantly evaluate their behaviors and decisions according to their (perceived) logical value. When planning what time to arrive for a doctor’s appointment, for instance, a Logician first undergoes the following analysis: Is the doctor usually on time, or is he consistently 15 to 20 minutes late? If the doctor is usually on time, a Logician may make it a priority to be punctual in return; if not, they can’t help questioning the logic of arriving on time just to sit and wait.

Diplomats (64%)

Falling behind the Sentinels and Analysts were the Diplomat personality types, whose level of agreement (64%) was influenced by their Intuitive and Feeling traits. As with the other Roles, however, those Diplomats who possess the Judging trait, particularly Assertive Advocates (INFJ-A) (84%) and Protagonists (ENFJ-A) (79%), showed greater motivation to be punctual than Mediators (INFP) (56%) and Campaigners (ENFP) (55%).

The warmth, enthusiasm, and altruism uniquely expressed by Diplomats mean that, to them, punctuality is a way to show respect and consideration for others. But the free-spirited natures of those with the Prospecting trait may make them less successful at sticking to the clock. In fact, Turbulent Campaigners (ENFP-T), who don’t always excel at maintaining their commitments and whose perfectionism can make them harder on themselves, were the least likely of all personality types to agree that they’re rarely late for appointments (52%).

As sensitive types, Diplomats may feel a twinge of hurt when those close to them are habitually late for shared appointments, perceiving it as a lack of consideration. Even so, thanks to their Intuitive and Feeling traits, Diplomat personalities may see open-mindedness, flexibility, and cooperation as being more important in social situations than punctuality and strict routines.

Explorers (63%)

As a group, Explorers rated themselves as punctual (63% agreeing), but less punctual than any other Role. The influence of the Mind aspect appears to be slightly greater for this Role than the others, with the Introverted Virtuosos (ISTP) (67%) and Adventurers (ISFP) (65%) agreeing more frequently than the Extraverted Entertainers (ESFP) (60%) and Entrepreneurs (ESTP) (59%).

The combination of Prospecting and Extraverted traits has a definite negative impact on Explorers’ ability to be punctual. Exemplifying this trend were Turbulent Entertainers (ESFP-T), with 55% identifying themselves as rarely late for appointments, the lowest in the Explorer Role. With their Extraverted, Observant, Feeling, and Prospecting traits, these unique individuals take a flexible approach to punctuality: when it’s both possible (meaning, nothing more interesting is happening) and beneficial for them to be on time, they will be. Conversely, it often proves challenging for these personalities to pull themselves away from more exciting pursuits, like socializing with friends, to be on time for a dentist appointment. True to their spontaneous natures, Explorers don’t get too offended by others’ tardiness, either – a sincere “Sorry I’m late!” is usually more than adequate (and an especially exciting rationale can erase the affront altogether).

To better understand how the Mind and Identity aspects affect punctuality, let’s turn to the Strategies.

Strategies

The data clearly demonstrates a positive influence of the Assertive and Introverted traits on punctuality, with the Confident Individualism Strategy agreeing at the highest rate (75%).

Confident Individualism and People Mastery (75% and 72%)

The Confident Individualism and People Mastery Strategies – marked by the Assertive Identity – demonstrated a perception of punctuality as a meaningful and important reflection of respect and confidence. The Introverted Confident Individualists believe that punctuality is a measure of personal responsibility, organization, and self-reliance, indicative of the high degree of conscientiousness that these types share.

The Extraverted People Masters also value punctuality, but in a context more focused on ambition, mutual respect, social grace, and reliability. These personality types take advantage of punctuality in order to capitalize on opportunities and build strong social networks.

Constant Improvement and Social Engagement (68% and 64%)

Although the majority of members of the Constant Improvement and Social Engagement Strategies also agreed that they are rarely late for appointments, their Turbulent Identity introduces an emotional factor that is worth exploring. Constant Improvers and Social Engagers may be more likely to perceive punctuality as a source of anxiety, sensitivity, and criticism. As Introverted personality types, Constant Improvers feel a need for personal approval and positive self-evaluation. Being punctual is a standard of perfection that, when unmet, could lead to self-criticism and negative emotions, including frustration, anger, and disappointment.

As Extraverts, Social Engagers also seek approval, but more from others than from themselves. As such, these personalities may believe that lateness will result in disapproval and a loss of social status, a preoccupation that can motivate them to be punctual, but at a higher cost to their mental and emotional well-being. These types can find themselves easily overwhelmed – physically and mentally – when a situation out of their control (or a personal fault) causes them to be late. Further compounding things, their heightened emotional state is more likely to draw the negative attention they strive so hard to avoid.

Conclusions

With all personality types agreeing in the majority that they are rarely late for appointments, it is evident that our readers believe punctuality to be a worthy endeavor, both in themselves and in others. To be punctual is certainly a positive attribute and a reflection of many commendable personality traits and personal values. We could all benefit from having the discipline of an Analyst and the conscientiousness of a Sentinel, tempered by the understanding of a Diplomat and the flexibility of an Explorer.

Just remember, punctuality is like perfection: it makes an excellent goal, but a questionable standard.

To what extent do you feel your personality type impacts your punctuality? Have you ever judged someone unfairly based on how punctual they are? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. Please also consider participating in our Member Surveys!

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