Friday, 22 January 2010

Early risers are more proactive than evening people

I've always envied early risers, those who spring out of bed at the crack of dawn, ready, it seems, to take on the world. Of course their early vitality could be short-lived. Morning friskiness gives the impression of a positive nature but are 'larks' really more proactive people than 'owls'?

Yes, according to Christoph Randler who surveyed 367 student participants and found a correlation between their self-reported 'morningness' (as revealed by their answers to questions about how easy they find it to get up in the morning and how alert they feel) and their self-reported proactivity (measured by their agreement with statements like 'I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself' and 'I feel responsible for my own life'). The correlation was relatively weak (.11, where 1 would be a perfect match) but was statistically significant.

Randler also found proactivity to be (inversely) correlated with so-called 'social jetlag'. This is caused by the mismatch between one's biological time-keeping and the demands of social time, as betrayed by the difference in students' choice of rise times between weekdays and weekends.

These findings suggest that morning people really are more proactive. What's not clear is why - whether it's because they really do have an inherent energy and drive or if instead it's simply easier for morning people to be proactive in a world that is generally tailored towards rising early, rather than working late.

'... [W]hether evening people could be more proactive in their lifestyles if they had less restrictive schedules (e.g. they could start work later in the day)' is a question for future research, Randler said.

This is far from being the first study to look for associations between people's sleep habits and other personality factors. Prior research suggests that evening people are more extraverted, pessimistic and creative, whilst morning people are more conscientious. Twin studies suggest that genetic differences explain a lot of the variation in people's morningness and eveningness.

ResearchBlogging.orgRandler, C. (2009). Proactive People Are Morning People. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39 (12), 2787-2797 DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00549.x

Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.


Ben said...

This study seems quite poor: no consideration has been given to why exactly the 'morning people' are waking earlier, if they are waking early because they have set themselves to a circadian rhythm with an earlier sleep/wake cycle than the 'evening person' then this seems more like a choice than genetics.

Furthermore, there appears to be selection bias with the sample; if it is the case that early risers choose to rise early by setting a more societally conforming sleep/wake cycle then one would expect that they'd be more proactive and goal oriented and vice versa, if it is the case that the evening people have chosen to adopt a less conformist sleeping pattern then societally valued goals are less likely to match their own.

This just seems to have ignored the possibility of selection bias entirely and presumed that the causality flows from the sleeping pattern to the proactivity, rather than the equally logically intuitive opposite.

Anonymous said...

I want to know if factor X causes early rising and productivity or if early rising is the cause of the productivity.

Caveat B said...

Anon, exactly! I was a late riser until an upperclassman in college, when I (finally) realized I needed to bear down on studying. I'm at my desk at work around 720am now, the earliest ever, and the last 2 years of my work have been the most productive ever, from a risk-adjusted returns perspective.

David said...

Someone needs an introductory stats lesson - .44 is NOT a weak correlation.
Anon and Ben, this study is about proactivity, not productivity. Interestingly, there was a study on the digest recently that showed late risers were more productive (and worked longer) than early risers. So, late risers more productive, but less proactive than early risers. I have visions of early rising colleagues initiating loads of projects over coffee, and relying on their late rising co-authors to doggedly finish the writing up over cocoa and pro-plus.

David said...

Oops, I meant to address Anon and Caveat, sorry Ben.

Unknown said...

Hi David and others,
I'm sorry, I made a mistake with the correlation - it was .11, not .44. Although only a weak correlation, it was significant.

Karan said...

The sun is the source of energy and in morning hours sun at earliest rays invokes greater energy than evening

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