A Morning Person?

This column originally appeared in The Observer magazine/Guardian online

Are you a morning person? If you had no responsibilities to others and could plan your day entirely to suit yourself, would you be up at the crack of dawn, or lie in until noon?

Although it might sound like a pretty trivial matter, psychologists are increasingly discovering that the tendency towards being a morning person or – at the other end of the scale – a night owl tells us rather a lot about our personalities. You won’t be particularly surprised to hear that morning people are more likely to turn up for early appointments on time. Impressively, though, one recent study of high-school students found that morning people outperformed evening people in maths, science and language exams, even when the two groups were first matched on an IQ test. Morning people also score higher on tests of proactivity – the tendency to take charge of a situation and use it to your advantage. Evening people are more likely to be risk takers, especially when gambling and making financial investments. They are also more likely to be smokers and drinkers, possibly because they are suffering from a kind of “social jetlag” – a mismatch between the schedule imposed by the working week and their own internal timetables.

Perhaps most surprisingly of all, one recent study found that evening people are more likely to display aspects of narcissism, Machiavellianism and lack of self-control; all characteristics of people who show greater willingness to have affairs and one-night stands, and to commit petty theft: Creatures of the night indeed.

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