There are morning people and there are evening people; there is ethical behavior and there is unethical behavior. That much we know, and previous attempts to suss out how those categories overlap with each other pointed researchers toward what’s called the “morning morality effect.” The effect, written up in a study last year, suggests that people behave more ethically earlier in the day, the theoretical underpinning being that as a person grows drained from the day’s mounting obligations, they lose the wherewithal required to behave in a saintly manner.
This seems plausible enough, but another group of researchers wondered if the morning morality effect might overlook an element of existing sleep research: that people have specific “chronotypes,” meaning they’re predisposed to feeling alert at different times of day. (One’s chronotype can change over the course of a lifetime.) The morning morality effect, they figured, doesn’t account for the portion of the population—roughly 40 percent—whose vitality blooms in the evening. These researchers conducted a study, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, that found that an evening person is roughly three times as likely to behave unethically in the morning than a morning person.
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