ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 1968-1980.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.01968

• Meta-Analysis • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Cross-temporal changes of college students' time management disposition in the mainland of China during 1999~2020

CHEN Bizhong, SUN Xiaojun()   

  1. Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (CCNU), Ministry of Education; School of Psychology, Central China Normal University (CCNU), Wuhan 430079, China
  • Received:2021-11-29 Online:2022-09-15 Published:2022-07-21
  • Contact: SUN Xiaojun


In an era with surging time pressure, time management disposition is playing an increasingly important role in the psychological and social adaptation of college students experiencing psychological moratorium. Time management disposition refers to individuals' psychological and behavioral patterns of time arrangement when dealing with the functions and values of time. It covers three dimensions, namely sense of time value, sense of time control and sense of time efficacy. The socio-ecological modle highlighted the important role of diachronic systems and macro systems in the mental health of the yonth. But indirect evidence suggested that there was no clear trend in the time management disposition of Chinese college students. The enhancement of skills related to time management may help boost time management disposition while increasing interference and time pressure may weaken the time management skills. Moreover, existing research focued on the impact of individual factors and micro systems on the time management disposition of college students. No research from the macro-perspectives has been made.

This research, therefore, adopted the cross-temporal meta-analysis method, a newly developed but extensively applied method of quantitative literature review, to analyze 215 papers published between 1999 and 2020 applying the Adolescence Time Management Disposition Inventory (ATMDI) (N = 103876). Our results showed that: (1) The time management disposition of Chinese college students has declined steadily in the past 22 years, among which the sense of time value stayed stable while the sense of time control and the sense of time efficacy were on the decline; (2) Seven social indicators, namely socioeconomic factors (GDP, household consumption level and urbanization rate), employment factors (the number of college graduates and registered urban unemployment rate) and Interet factors (Internet availability and weekly Internet using hours of netizens), significantly predicted the decline in the time management disposition of college students; (3) there were no significant gender and regional differences in the time management disposition of college students in China.

This research explored the time management disposition of college students, a micro psychological variable, from the macro-perspective. Guided by the social ecosystem theory, the research pioneered to verify the declining trend in the time management disposition of college students from the mainland of China. It is revealed that their judgement of time functions and values remained stable over 22 years, but their time planning competence and confidence were declining. In other words, college students admitted the value of time but could not make efficient use of it, which led to a contradiction between attitude and behavior. In addition, this research proved that economy, employment and Internet (three social macro factors) predicted the time management disposition of college students, which elevated the macro significance of time management disposition. Based on existing findings, this research came up with a influencing mechanism model on the time management disposition of college students including the social macro factors. According to the model, the changes in objective macro systems, such as economy, employment and Internet, resulting in changed subjective macro systems, such as social mentality. Both types of macro systems function on individuals and micro systems at the same time. Meanwhile, individual factors and micro systems interact with each other. Futhermore, time change or social transformation has a controlling effect on the whole system. Time change and social transformation can trigger the changes of the above two macro systems, affecting individual factors and micro systems, and further exert an effect on the time management disposition of college students. The model provided theoretical and practical references for future research on time psychology in the social sense.

Key words: time management disposition, the Adolescense Time Management Disposition Inventory, college students, cross-temporal meta-analysis, social change

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