The Morality of Larks and Owls: Unethical Behavior Depends on Chronotype as Well as Time-of-Day

8 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2014  

Brian Gunia

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Christopher M. Barnes

University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business

Sunita Sah

Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

Date Written: July 2, 2014

Abstract

The recently-documented “morning morality effect” indicates that people act most ethically in the morning because their energy wanes with the day. An estimated 40% of the population, however, experience increased energy levels later in the day. These “evening people,” we propose, should not show the morning morality effect. Instead, they should show the same or an increasing propensity toward ethicality in the evening. Two experiments supported this hypothesis, showing that people with a morning chronotype tend to behave more ethically in the morning than the evening, while people with an evening chronotype tend to behave more ethically in the evening than the morning. Thus, understanding when people will behave unethically may require an appreciation of both the person (chronotype) and the situation (time-of-day): a chronotype morality effect.

Keywords: circadian rhythm, cognitive processes, morality, ethics, sleep

Suggested Citation

Gunia, Brian and Barnes, Christopher M. and Sah, Sunita, The Morality of Larks and Owls: Unethical Behavior Depends on Chronotype as Well as Time-of-Day (July 2, 2014). Psychological Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2461952

Brian Gunia

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Christopher M. Barnes

University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business ( email )

Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States

Sunita Sah (Contact Author)

Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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