Early Risers Are Seen to be Less Moral at Night - New Study

Morning People Cheat and Behave Unethically in the Night Hours
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A man jogs on the sand next to the Pacific Ocean at sunrise
A man jogs on the sand next to the Pacific Ocean at sunrise in the beach in California June 20, 2014. Reuters

We have all heard that early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, but recent research reveals that the well known phrase isn't really true after all. New findings say that early riser's ethics and moral values go down the drain by night. "Morning people are more likely to cheat and behave unethically in the night hours," said researchers.

The research paper, The Morality of Larks and Owls, examined the levels of honesty among people depending on what time of the day they wake up. The study found a connection between individual's moral values and ethical choices and their sleep patterns. More specifically their "chronotype," which is an attribute of human beings that reflect the time of the day when they are physically most active.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Washington University, Georgetown and Harvard observed 200 people's behaviour on the basis of a questionnaire that they were given to fill up, it involved problem solving tests and games. The subjects were promised a $10 reward on completing the tests on time and bigger rewards for completing the contests. The subjects did not realise that they were being tested on their honesty and thought it to be a game.

The assistant professor of business ethics at Georgetown University and a research fellow at Harvard University in the US, Sunita Sah, said that the results of the research had shook the stereotype about evening people being somehow dissolute, as the early rising larks were seen to be more ethical in the morning and the 'owls' were more principled during the night

The study reported, "In the morning, evening people are more unethical than morning people." Sah said, "The findings have major implications for workplaces relying on ethical decisions and honesty - particularly where there are shift patterns." She explained that the research throws light on how decision-making is affected by a person's chronotype. It raises questions about working hours and the structure of the working day.

The subject's choice of sticking to the rules of filling the questionnaire and completing it on time changed with their internal body clocks and different times of the day at which the test was given to them.

Pointing towards the study, the report concluded, "They cast doubt on the stereotype that evening people are somehow dissolute." Also throwing light that people's ethical choices may vary according to their time of waking but none of the two groups 'early larks' or 'night owls' could be distinguished as being more ethically right than the other. Their moral values dipped at different times of the day depending on their chronotype.

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