Researchers have stated that early risers are more alert during the early part of the day, but are more like to behave unethically during the night hours.
Psychologists have discovered that early-risers and late-nighters indicate varying levels of honesty which is dependent upon the time of day. The study has found a connection between ethical choices and internal clocks.
A research fellow at Harvard University in the US, Sunita Sah, said that this could affect workplaces.
The research assessed the behaviour patterns of around 200 people. The participants were required to partake in problem-solving games and tests, but were not aware that it was their honesty level which was being measured.
The study, called The Morality of Larks and Owls, studied the connection between ethical decision-making and the ‘chronotype’ of the individual. This is when individuals are have more energy or are most likely to require sleep.
It was found that there is a distinct link between honesty and the individual’s chronotype. This implies that early-rising ‘larks’ tended to be more ethical during the morning and the late-night ‘owls’ tended to be more honest at night.
The study offered financial rewards of up to $10 for the completion of time-tested tasks, as well as contests where bigger prizes could be gained. However, the aim of the tests was to monitor how individuals self-reported the results of their tests.
The dishonesty level was much higher when individuals were outside their preferred time of the day. The study reported that evening people were more unethical than morning people, during the morning.
The report found that ethical behaviour was present when people matched their situations.
The research was undertaken by US university academics based at the University of Washington and John Hopkins University. Professor Sah is a research fellow at Harvard University and an assistant professor of business ethics at Georgetown University.
Professor Sah stated that their findings could have huge implications in workplaces where honesty and ethical decisions are a priority, particularly when there are shift patterns.
The research raises questions about business working hours and the structure of the normal working day if the decision-making process of individuals is affected by their chronotype.
Ethical choices, such as adhering to the test rules, appear to change at different times of day and with the internal body clocks of individuals.
These findings have also challenged suggestions that night-owls are generally believed to be more badly behaved.
The report concludes by stating that doubt has been cast on the stereotype that night-owls are dissolute.
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