The Five Faces of Eve: Women's Timestyle Typologies

W. Thomas Anderson, Jr., The University of Texas at Austin
Linda L. Golden, The University of Texas at Austin
U. N. Umesh, Washington State University
William A. Weeks, Baylor University
ABSTRACT - Through a national survey of women's time allocation among activities for a typical weekday, this exploratory research identified eleven women's timestyle typologies in the United States. Of the five most dominant timestyles, three characterized employed women, one typified the older empty nest woman, and another the no employed housewife. Particularly notable is the differentiation in the timestyle profiles among employed women.
[ to cite ]:
W. Thomas Anderson, Jr., Linda L. Golden, U. N. Umesh, and William A. Weeks (1989) ,"The Five Faces of Eve: Women's Timestyle Typologies", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, eds. Thomas K. Srull, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 346-353.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, 1989      Pages 346-353


W. Thomas Anderson, Jr., The University of Texas at Austin

Linda L. Golden, The University of Texas at Austin

U. N. Umesh, Washington State University

William A. Weeks, Baylor University


Through a national survey of women's time allocation among activities for a typical weekday, this exploratory research identified eleven women's timestyle typologies in the United States. Of the five most dominant timestyles, three characterized employed women, one typified the older empty nest woman, and another the no employed housewife. Particularly notable is the differentiation in the timestyle profiles among employed women.


As the percentage of dual income families has increased dramatically in the United States, behavioral researchers have directed considerable attention to sex and gender role issues (cf., Qualls 1987, Miller and Garrison 1982, Bagozzi and Van Loo 1978). It is widely recognized that women often play multiple roles beyond, or instead of, the traditional "wife and mother" or joint decision-maker with their husband and/or family. Yet, consumer researchers are only beginning to explore the variety of roles that women play in our society beyond the "employed versus nonemployed," "parent versus non-parent" dichotomies.

This research looks at women's roles from the perspective of characteristic patterns of time allocation among activities. Specifically, a time diary approach is used to develop dominant timestyle profiles characterizing women in the United States. Thus, the purpose of the study described herein was to identify dominant women's timestyle profiles in order to better understand the behavioral manifestations of the various roles women perform in our society. There is a virtual vacuum of research specifically profiling women's time use in consumer behavior. This research makes a contribution by applying a timestyles methodology to the study of women's roles.


Only relatively recently have the social sciences turned their attention to studying time allocation. Economists and social psychologists view time as a fixed, immutable and tangible resource (Hirschman 1987) existing in finite amounts that must be allocated among obligatory and discretionary activities. Thus, for the individual, time does not exist independent of the applications to which it is put. Indeed, the priority of personal time can only be interpreted from its allocation among alternative activities.

Recently, consumer behavior researchers have begun to investigate time, employing a number of perspectives: differences in time consumption between working and nonworking wives (Nickols and Fox 1983), the impact of a wife's employment on time-saving service expenditures (Bellante and Foster 1984), participation in leisure versus discretionary activities (Hawes 1977), conceptualization and model building (cf., Feldman and Hornik 1981), theoretical perspectives of time use and scarcity (Gross 1987, Hirschman 1987), complementarity and substitutability of activities (Umesh, Weeks and Golden 1988, Weeks, Umesh and Wong 1987, Holbrook and Lehmann 1981) and situational effects on time consumption (Hornik 1982), among others (cf., Jacoby, Szybillo and Berning 1976). Perhaps the most promising approach in consumer behavior, however, is the concept of timestyles initially proposed by Feldman and Hornik (1981). The term "timestyles" refers to "the allocation of time among various activities" (Feldman and Hornik 1981, p. 407). The way time is distributed provides a behavioral caricature of the individual, a kind of activity autograph, articulating and affirming the individual's personal priorities and constraints within various role contexts.

Timestyles has emerged as a potentially rich construct for consumer research because it establishes a direct conceptual, empirical and behavioral link between the individual's internal priorities and external constraints. While time usage has been regarded as an indicator of lifestyle (Lee and Ferber 1977), the most frequent operationalizations of lifestyle ignore moderating variables between cognitions and behavior. As Feldman and Hornik (1981) point out, "lifestyle" tends to focus on the acquisition of goods and services, but "timestyle" focuses on the consumption of time, which may be expressed in the consumption of goods and services. Thus, timestyles reflect the reconciliation of cognitions and the environment in behavior and is, therefore, of potentially greater usefulness to consumer behavior analysts, strategists and policy makers.


In a nationwide study of Americans, Robinson (1977) found that role factors--sex, employment, marriage and parenthood--exerted more impact on individual time use than any other set of factors investigated (i.e., personal, environmental or resource). Employment can result in up to one-half of waking hours being allocated to job-related matters. Parenthood was the second most time-consuming role responsibility, followed by marriage, with both roles demanding more time from women than men.

The face of American society is being changed by alterations in women's employment which can be viewed as a constraint factor influencing time allocation (Hill and Juster 1985). In general, the ways People use their time are influenced by whether or not they work outside the home (Robinson 1977), as the time available for work at home and leisure depends to a large extent on the person's employment status (Gronau 1977). The proportion of women in the labor force has increased from 39.3 percent in 1965, to 46.4 percent in 1975 (Blau 1984), to over 50 percent today. Not surprisingly, employed and nonemployed women have been found to have significant differences in their time use (c.f., Gauger and Walker 1980; Jorgenson 1977; Nickols and Fox 1983). These results are consistent with Becker's (1965) theory of the allocation of time which suggests that families with an employed wife will be oriented toward spending less time in household production than families with a nonemployed wife.

The presence of children is another of Hill and Juster's (1985) constraint factors, as children influence the allocation of time for husbands and wives (Bloch 1973; Gronau 1977). Each new family member produces a disproportionate increase in the number of interpersonal relations, increasing the complexity of family life (Aldous 1978). These role changes are then reflected in how individuals spend their time (e.g., Kelley 1980; Russell 1974; Ryder 1973; Spanier and Lewis 1980).


It is logical to expect differences in the activity profiles of employed versus nonemployed women, or women with and without children, as time weighs more heavily on women with multiple role responsibilities. Previous research has demonstrated significant differences and spawned theory on which to base hypothesis development. However, this study is conceptualized, not on the basis of demographic differences but, rather, focuses on timestyles: the behavioral manifestation of role differences in the allocation of time among activities. Thus, the following research questions are advanced:

1. What dominant time styles exist for women in the United States culture?

2. Are there significant demographic differences associated with the dominant timestyles?

We expected that there would be several dominant and distinct timestyles for women in the United States which reflect the differing demands imposed on a woman's time by situational "choices" she has made. And, after identifying distinct timestyles, we expected that time allocation differences would be reflected in demographic differences. However, we also anticipated that the timestyles emerging would be far more rich and revealing than simple demographic differences, since as individuals we allocate time in idiosyncratic patterns of activities according to the manner in which our time demands, constraints, and opportunities are reconciled. And time demands, constraints and opportunities are largely determined by the roles we perform. For example, employed mothers may be represented by more than one timestyle, as may nonemployed homemakers at different stages in the family life cycle.


A nationwide survey using a purchased mailing list produced 897 respondent reports on their and their housemate's (if any) participation in 23 activities by 24 one hour increments (6-7 a.m., 7-8 a.m., etc.) for a typical weekday. Respondents selected activities from a list provided which had been developed through a review of the previous time diary literature (cf., Robinson 1977) and pretests. For purposes of comprehensive role integration, the 23 activity categories were each intentionally developed to represent a "global activity," rather than separate individual tasks that might combine to form an activity. Respondents were asked to indicate the dominant activity (i.e., not all activities) in which they engaged for each one hour time period. Budget constraints prohibited the use of a follow-up contact; however, the response-rate was 16 percent.

This study focuses on head-of-household self and other-reported activities by and for women. While combining self- and other-reported data might be questioned on methodological grounds, the respondent was asked to report the dominant activity for each time period to preserve comparability in the scope of the data, and to minimize discrepancies in possible secondary activities undertaken in each one hour period. One hundred and twenty-two women responded for themselves.

Developing Timestyle Typologies

In order to develop women's timestyle typologies, only respondents providing complete data were submitted to analysis (n = 714). Using nonhierarchical clustering- (FASCLUS) women were grouped on the basis of the amount of time spent in each of seven activity categories (developed by collapsing the initial 23) for every hour between 6 a.m. and midnight. The time when most all respondents were sleeping (midnight to 6 a.m.) was eliminated from analysis, increasing the sensitivity of timestyle analysis for the period bracketing the typical active hours of the day.

The seven activity categories used in the final analysis were:

1. Sleep

2. Personal maintenance (e.g., personal grooming, dressing, eating)

3. Electronic leisure (e.g., watch TV, listen to stereo or radio)

4. Discretionary (e.g., work on hobbies, visit, meetings, sports, travel, movies, read, etc.)

5. Work at home on job-related tasks or study

6. Work at job or school

7. Home and family maintenance (e.g., housekeeping, food preparation, child care)

While the 23 initial activity categories could be combined in a variety of ways, the above categories represent major activity groupings associated with discretionary and non-discretionary time, as well as providing an opportunity for the delineation of activities suggesting a variety of positional roles that women might occupy.

The dominant timestyles identified from the cluster analysis were submitted to discriminant analysis for major demographic variables collected subsequent to the respondents' reporting their and their housemate's activities.


Cluster results revealed that eleven clusters provided the "optimum" multiple criteria solution (pseudo F = 39.25; overall R2 = .362; minimum centroid distance = 4.31). While eleven clusters may more adequately describe the range and richness of women's timestyles in the United States, space constraints prohibit a description of all eleven clusters. Moreover, the smallest clusters ranged from eight to forty women, which become sizable when projected to the general population, but problematic for statistical analysis of demographic contrasts. Therefore, this paper focuses on the five dominant women's timestyle typologies representing 85.6 percent (n = 611) of the sample providing complete data.

Women's Dominant Timestyle Typology Clusters

Table 1 displays the percentage of respondents engaged in the seven activity categories for each of the 18 one hour time periods examined. Initially, the most straightforward characterization of the timestyle clusters is to scrutinize the activity category that contains the highest percentage of respondents for each time period.

Three of the five dominant timestyle clusters reconcile domestic roles with employment outside their home: Clusters 1, 3 and 4. The vast majority of respondents in Cluster 1 awake prior to 6:00 a.m., and are on their way to work by 7:00 a.m. While the dominant activity between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. is their job, by 4:00 p.m. the respondents in Cluster 1 begin to disseminate across other activities, notably discretionary and home maintenance activities. By 5:00 p.m. Cluster 1 is heavily involved in personal maintenance (eating and grooming), but by 6:00 p.m. this timestyle group is involved in electronic leisure or discretionary activities. Electronic leisure dominates time from 8:00 until 10:00 p.m. when most members of this cluster go to bed. Inspection of the discriminant results shown in Table 2 reveals that Cluster 1 is the youngest timestyle typology and has the largest number of people in their household. The combination of timestyle and demographic information earns this group the label "Young Working Mothers."

By contrast, a second employed timestyle typology, Cluster 3, is even more structured in their allocation of time to activities. Cluster 3 is also awake by 6:00 a.m., but they spend more time in personal maintenance and go to work one hour later than Cluster 1. Cluster 3 shows a more structured routine at work than does Cluster 1, breaking for lunch between noon and 1:00 p.m., and returning to work until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. Cluster 3 eats dinner approximately one hour later than Cluster 1 (from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.) and then follows a similar but delayed pattern of two hours of discretionary activities (probably visiting with friends or relatives). Cluster 3 timestyle members go to bed slightly later than Cluster 1, but the majority of Cluster 3 women are in bed by 11:00 p.m., as was the case with Cluster 1. Cluster 3 may appropriately be termed the "Structured 8-5ers."

The demographics of Cluster 3 indicate that they have the highest housemate education, household income and percent of income contributed to the household of any timestyle typology. They are prosperous and work-oriented, but within a structured on-the-job environment, rather than bringing their work home.

Timestyle cluster 4 is a hybrid between Clusters 1 and 3. Cluster 4 tends to sleep later than either Cluster 1 or 3 and spends only an hour in personal maintenance in the morning, like Cluster 1. Also like Cluster 1, Cluster 4 tends not to have a distinct lunch time, but exhibits a slightly longer work day than Cluster 1, more like Cluster 3. Cluster 4 distinguishes itself with its involvement in household maintenance between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Their activity pattern then converges more with Cluster 3 as Cluster 4 women engage in discretionary activities between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. After two hours of electronic media, Cluster 4 women tend to go to bed later than the other employed groups (possibly explaining why they also get up later), with the majority in bed between 11:00 p.m. and midnight.

Cluster 4 women distinguish themselves demographically with the lowest housemate age and the least number of years with their housemate. While Cluster 4 is not the youngest, there is no significant difference between their average age and that of the youngest timestyle group, Cluster 1. Cluster 4 is termed "Early Married and Employed."

Timestyle Cluster 2 defines the "Nonemployed Housewife." The majority are up by 7:00 a.m. and engaged in personal maintenance until 9:00 a.m. From 9:00 a.m. until noon this group pursues household maintenance activities, eating from noon until 1:00 p.m. Their afternoon is dominated by discretionary activities, with personal maintenance activities absorbing attention between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. Cluster 2 spends only one hour in discretionary activities in the evening, but spends three hours in electronic leisure before going to bed between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. As would be expected, Cluster 2 contributes the least amount of household income of any group.





The other nonemployed timestyle is Cluster 5 who, like Cluster 2, engages in three hours of  electronic leisure in the evening, more than any of the three employed timestyles. Cluster 5 gets up earlier than Cluster 2 (most rise between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m.), but engage in housework for a shorter period of time. Instead, Cluster 5 is involved in discretionary activities in the later morning. However, like their nonemployed counterparts, Cluster 5 is involved in discretionary activities until 5:00 p.m. Cluster 5 women are active in personal maintenance until 7:00 p.m., and then retire to electronic leisure for the next three hours. Unlike Cluster 2, Cluster 5 is not involved in discretionary activities in the evening. They prefer relaxing at home and go to bed earlier than Cluster 2.

As evidenced by their timestyle and demographic profile, Cluster 5 typifies the "Nonemployed Empty Nest" woman. She and her housemate are significantly older than any other group, have the smallest number of people living in the household, the lowest housemate education and household income, and have been with their housemate longer than any other group. For a typical weekday, these women evidence the most discretionary activity dominated timestyle during the day and the most sedentary timestyle in the evening.


Women constitute an increasingly important, complex and fragmented market segment. On the basis of the results of a national survey, this study identified eleven timestyle clusters of women in the United States. While the conclusions that can be drawn are unique to the methodology used, this study has demonstrated how the diversity of women's roles can be captured by timestyle typologies.

One of the most striking conclusions of this research is that breaking women into employed versus nonemployed groups is likely to obscure potentially meaningful timestyle and lifestyle differences between employed women, differences which have potentially important strategic and public policy implications. This study identified three dominant groups of employed women, each possessing unique demographic characteristics and timestyle orientations. Research that employs a methodology that divides women on the basis of a demographic variable and then investigates behavioral differences may in fact mask the richness of behavioral differences among employed women.

Further research is needed to investigate attitudinal differences among the various groups of employed women. Their attitudinal orientation toward their job and home life may partially explain why they have reconciled these two areas with their chosen activity patterns as evidenced by their timestyles.

In addition, our study was restricted to timestyle typologies for women, representing 51 percent of the United States population. Looking at time allocation from a dyadic or household perspective, consumer researchers need to inspect timestyle convergence and divergence between spouses. A household unit reflects the reconciliation of at least two people's time demands and as a behavioral representation of that reconciliation, a comparison of spouse's timestyle profiles represents their individual and joint priorities. The convergence or divergence in husband-wife time allocation may also be a precondition or an artifact of other variables, such as marital satisfaction. This may also correlate with length of marriage. The "courtship-honeymoon" stage of spouse relationships may be reflected in convergence of timestyle profiles and in relatively high marital satisfaction. Conversely, in the "post-honeymoon phase" husband-wife activity profiles may diverge, as time may be increasingly divided among other roles.

These and other issues remain unexplored in the current analysis but suggest the potential richness of the timestyle construct for empirically examining the behavioral expression of lifestyle in our most scarce resource: time. Time is one possession all consumers share. Yet, we have only begun to realize that time use is a fruitful subject for decision analysis.


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