April 15, 2008

Buzzzzzzzz *click* (Naturalist Essay #2)

Why do people set their clocks early with the intention of leaving themselves enough leeway to repeatedly hit the snooze button when their alarm goes off? The exact mechanism they choose to manifest this is set by the personal rules of each given individual. One possibility is that an individual sets their alarm 15 minutes earlier then they need to wake-up. Likewise the same effect can be achieved by setting the alarm clock forward 15 minutes, making it read 6:45 when it’s actually 6:30. This second option could be an urban legend or just a commonly passed around anecdote however I for one can personally attest to setting my clock forward, knowing full well that the time isn’t really accurate. Now some schools of thought might argue that it’s some sort of faux social mechanism however those of us schooled in the ways of economic perception say no!

The first thing to realize is that it is a conscious decision for each individual to participate in this act. The action creates a system where an option of ‘extra time’ exists in the morning. By doing this the individual is establishing a personalized set of rules for how the morning transaction of time will take place. The actual transaction of time occurs when the alarm goes off. The individual is able to assess the opportunity costs of how to utilize this ‘extra time’ at that moment. Some possible options include hitting the snooze button, waking up and having extra time to get ready for the day or possibly being early to an appointment. Each one of these alternate options the individual measures against the value of sleeping for however long was allotted. Options are weighted against the level of preparedness to wake up or however valuable the next best option is.

In addition to the moment that this transaction of time takes place, earlier, when the individual sets the alarm early or set the clock forward in advance, a decision is being made. That decision is that the ability to assess the opportunity at a future moment is more valuable then the ability to make a future determination (a guess) about it in the present. The alarm owner understands that the assessment of reward in this case is a dynamic feature. It’s these micro assessments of benefits and opportunity costs that I believe form the basis for the intentional and planned use of the snooze button.

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