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Stop Hating on Early Risers: It’s the Night Owls You Should Worry About

While everybody loves to hate the chipper morning people, psychologists say that night owls are really the ones to watch out for

There’s not much you can do about whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. But researchers who looked for different personality traits among early rises and late nighters found that amongst those who stay up, incidence of the so called “Dark Triad” of personality traits—Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism—were higher.

The study went like this, according to Research Digest:

Jonason and his colleagues surveyed 263 students online (average age 24; there were 74 men) using a narcissism scale (participants rated their agreement with statements like: “I have a natural talent for influencing people”); a psychopathy scale (e.g. “I think I could beat a lie detector”), a Machiavellianism scale (e.g. “it is hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there”) and chronotype questionnaire (participants answered questions like “During the first half hour after you wake up in the morning, how do you feel?”).

This team isn’t the first to suggest a link between your preferred sleep schedule and personality traits. In 1976, a researcher developed the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (yes, that is its real name) to help people figure out their preferred sleeping schedule. Psychologists have used the MEQ as a way to figure out whether people are night owls or early birds. One study found that the MEQ might be related to extroversion, another found that evening types are more likely to be stressed out. Another study found that morning types were more conscientious while evening types were more neurotic. A literature review agreed, finding that conscientiousness was the most highly correlated with your sleep cycle (morning people being more conscientious than others). That study also found that extroversion, neuroticism and agreeableness could also be tracked to sleep schedules.

So while everybody loves to hate the chipper morning people, psychologists say that night owls are really the ones to watch out for.

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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