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The Universal Pleasures of 7 PM

At that time of day all over the world, most people are experiencing a "largely pleasant social interaction."
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Dongyi Liu / Flickr

If there's a time when you'd seem least likely to be doing the same thing as someone else, a good guess might be about 7 p.m. Late at night, most of us are sleeping. During the day, most of us are working. And early in the morning most of us are somewhere between sleep and work. It's the evening that provides the most flexibility: maybe we're putting in some late hours at the office, maybe we're eating dinner, maybe we're watching TV. In the grand scheme of things, 7 p.m. feels like the snowflake of o'clocks.

Which makes the upshot of a very original new study that much more fascinating: At 7 p.m., around the world, we all feel more or less the same about what we're doing. That's the finding from a massive study team, with 33 worldwide collaborators, led by psychologist Esther Guillaume of the University of California at Riverside. Sampling more than 5,400 individuals from 20 countries, the researchers found that people across countries (and within the same) made highly similar assessments of life at 7 p.m.