November 8, 2007

Morning vs. Night People

From the December Atlantic Monthly:

Being a morning person or a night owl doesn’t just determine when you start or end your workday; your internal clock may help define your psychology as well. A Spanish researcher found that our preference for engaging in activities earlier or later in the day shapes both our perceptions and our interactions. The author gave personality tests to 360 university students, whom he describes as a “proper sample,” noting that the circadian rhythms of students “are not much under the influence of time schedules and social patterns.” (Despite the occasional all-nighter, students presumably can follow their preferred sleep schedules more easily than working adults can.) His results offer new evidence that morning and evening types think differently. Early risers prefer to gather knowledge from concrete information. They reach conclusions through logic and analysis. Night owls are more imaginative and open to unconventional ideas, preferring the unknown and favoring intuitive leaps on their way to reaching conclusions. Social behavior diverges as well: Morning people are more likely to be self-controlled and exhibit “upstanding” conduct; they respect authority, are more formal, and take greater pains to make a good impression. (Earlier research also suggests that they are less likely to hold radical political opinions.) Evening people, by contrast, are “independent” and “nonconforming,” and more reluctant to listen to authority—which suggests that teachers may have several reasons to prefer those students who wake up in time for class.

“Morning and Evening Types: Exploring Their Personality Styles,” Juan Francisco Díaz-Morales, Personality and Individual Differences

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

24 comments:

Roger Chaillet said...

Steve, aren't you a night owl?

Ian Lewis said...

"preferring the unknown and favoring intuitive leaps"

That is the on that always gets me. The people who love to buy into different Mystical ideas and then get visibly disappointed, angry even, when a simple scientific explanation arises.

tommy said...

Night people rule! Day people drool!

[I say this even as I am forced up early this morning.]

Anonymous said...

Can someone be a morning AND a night person? That is, can you put yourself on a night schedule for a few months and become "intuitive," then switch to a morning schedule and become "logical"?

Or are there two categories, morning and night, one of which is hard-wired into each person?

(Full confession: I didn't read the paper.)

professor said...

People who dress up like Merlin the Magician and smoke dope and play Dungeons and Dragons do so all night, not all day. I could name a dozen social subgroups who conform to the day vs night stereotype. It's just common sense based on simple real-world observation.

Sideways said...

Well, as a night owl, I've got to say that that's pretty much a perfectly wrong description of me.

Of course, I might like the day more if I didn't hate the sun so very much.

Dennis Mangan said...

Interesting: as a morning person, the description rang true. Also it looks like we have night owls to thank for the loony left!

Luke said...

I always feared the cold, rational light of morning, but I knew it was the truth.

Evil Neocon said...

My problem with this study is that it seems to contradict my own direct experience working with programmers, almost all of whom have personality attributes in terms of logical structure, reasoning, organization etc. that the study says are components of morning people.

I will say (and a visit to say Slashdot will confirm this) that every nutty conspiracy theory does draw in programmers -- which is odd since programming teaches you how easily "you" can make mistakes in logic, assumption, data handling, etc.

MensaRefugee said...

Mebbe this ties in with this

Escuerd said...

"A Spanish researcher found that our preference for engaging in activities earlier or later in the day shapes both our perceptions and our interactions."

And here I thought he found a correlation between certain personality traits and sleep patterns. I really can't stand science reporting from most news outlets, and spurious causality is just one problem.

SFG said...

Red voters in the morning, liberals take warning.
Blue voters at night, liberal's delight.

Reader said...

Fits me perfectly - I'm an extreme night owl and also very independent and nonconforming. I also seem to recall reading that a lot of great scientists were extreme night owls (I'm sure I read this of Descartes, for instance).

It sounds like the personality differences they describe correspond to the P/J distinction made by the Myers-Briggs system of typology.

M. A said...

one step away from a horoscope.

tommy said...

The night owl lifestyle fits more antisocial personalities who try and keep their interaction with strangers and with superficial people to a minimum. Perhaps we "antisocialites" aren't the predominant group of night owls, but in university science departments it sure seems that way.

mnuez said...

MA -

I'd say in terms of people claiming to see themselves (or their acquaintances or other anecdotal people) in the descriptions it's not an IOTA better than a horoscope. "Yeah, I'm logical...Dat's me!" However, there may (for all I know) be some solid statistical data to be looked at in the comparisons. It would STILL be ridiculous to describe these "types" in such horoscopic weasel-words as "imaginative" vs. "logical" and it would also be babyish for anyone to claim that such a dichotomy accurately describes any particular person but there may yet be some worthwhile data to loom at (though I've yet to do so).

Furthermore, there may be some chicken/egg confusion going on here. Which came first, the all-nighters or the non-conventional votes?

Anyhow, what I mean to say is that the selected quote sufficiently annoyed me with it's "pop-sci" feel that I don;t care to read the piece. There are a lot of studies out there and in order to properly understand ANY of them you gonna have to do a whole lotta technical reading, most of which isn't likely to be found in the Atlantic Monthly.

Cheers,

mnuez
www.mnuez.blogspot.com

tommy said...

It wouldn't surprise me if alcoholics are more prone to being night owls than the general population. It seems to me that many severe alcoholics (and many night owls) are people who don't like much human interaction and are sensitive to sensory input generally. My father is both a severe alcoholic and a night owl. He has drank himself to cirrhosis just like his own father. I'm a night owl, but fortunately only a moderate drinker.

Churlish and surly said...

"There are a lot of studies out there and in order to properly understand ANY of them you gonna have to do a whole lotta technical reading, most of which isn't likely to be found in the Atlantic Monthly."

I hate to agree with mnuez because I can't stand the way he worded this but agree with him I do. This research, at least the abstract, leaves out subtle details and ignores some issues completely. I'm not a morning person but I can be very productive first thing in the morning. Before lunchtime, I react to noise and cheerful people as if I have hangover (without having had anything the drink the night before) but I'm very organized and have great concentration.

There are other sleep patterns as well. I've known people who regularly get up as early as 3 or 4 in the morning when they could've slept much later. Sometimes even I switch to this pattern spontaneously and find that I'm loud and cheery before lunch. (I hate myself when this happens.) I also tend to rely on concrete information from credible sources while also being able to appreciate thinkers who are creative, radical and intuitive and emulate them to an extent. I don't think this is unusual. I get saturated or stifled with an intellectual diet unless I've been careful to keep a balance between say the analytical and the literary. Though, I will admit to being intuitive and antisocial. But even my antisocial behavior is often more a form of agoraphobia. I hate crowded stores and traffic jams. OK, when I'm right, I'm right even if I don't have the patience to explain to you how I got from point A to point B. Get over it!

But then again, psychology research can be simplistic and in its very effort to isolate variables to discern the truth about some aspect of reality distort it.

planetary archon said...

sounds like pure mountain buncombe to me. what's interesting is that some of the commenters here think the 'morning person' description applies to them. as in, they don't hold 'radical political opinions'. this is watson's bulldog's blog, after all. if you're here, you hold what in 2007 is a pretty far-from-mainstream opinion, and you're kidding yourself if you don't think so. (has anyone here ever tried to, say, discuss racial iq differences with their girlfriends? let's just say it's pretty awkward...)

Anonymous said...

I am def a night perosn. But does this study ring true? Are night people all flighty and intuitive?? I DEMAND to see some CONCRETE PROOF that this is true!! :)

Bill said...

tommy said...

It wouldn't surprise me if alcoholics are more prone to being night owls than the general population. It seems to me that many severe alcoholics (and many night owls) are people who don't like much human interaction and are sensitive to sensory input generally.


Actually, I think it's because booze helps you get to sleep. It's like a non-prescription sleep aid that has relatively mild and pleasant side-effects -- at least for the first few years...

Anonymous said...

Men who are night owls seem to include the men with the highest testorne levels abd drives for dominance.

Right Wing Hippie said...

I'm naturally a night person but have to force myself to be an early riser due to family and work. But I hate it; the only thing that drags me out of bed is the promise of several gigantic mugs of coffee, aka The Steaming Brew of Life.

People with ADHD are often night owls; they tend to be hard to rouse in the morning, and have a hard time settling down at night. And people with ADHD are also frequently non-conformist, anti-authoritarian and creative...we have lots of those people in our house. Makes for some interesting evenings.

Anonymous said...

That must explain why surfers, who catch waves first thing in the morning, are such logical and rational persons.