According to a news report in the Indian daily publication Business Standard, Australian researchers have found that people described as “night owls” display more signs of narcissism, manipulative Machiavellianism and psychopathic tendencies than those who are “morning larks” or early risers.
The scientists suggest our evolutionary past may be behind these traits, known as the Dark Triad, being more prevalent in those who do better in the night. The hours of darkness may have helped to conceal those who adopted a “cheaters strategy” while living in groups.
“It could be adaptively effective for anyone pursuing a fast-life strategy, like that embodied in the Dark Triad, to occupy and exploit a low-light environment, where others are sleeping and have diminished cognitive functioning,” said Dr. Peter Jonason, a psychologist at the University of Western Sydney, according to the news report.
In the Australian study, 263 students completed a series of standard personality tests designed to test their score for the Dark Triad traits. They were rated on scales for narcissism, the tendency to seek admiration and special treatment; Machiavellianism, a desire to manipulate others; and psychopathy, an inclination towards callousness and insensitivity.
The study found that those with a darker personality score tended to say they functioned more effectively in the evening. Findings also showed that those who stayed up later tended to have a higher sense of entitlement and seemed to be more exploitative.
Researchers found no evidence that the traits were linked to the participant’s gender, ruling out the possibility that the tendency to plot and act in the night time had its roots in sexual evolution.
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.