Australian researchers have found that people who are often described as 'night owls' display more signs of narcissism,Machiavellianism and psychopathic tendencies than those who are 'morning larks'.
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, a daily reported. The hours of darkness may have helped to conceal those who adopted a 'cheaters strategy' while living in groups, scientists claim.
"It could be adaptively effective for anyone pursuing a fast life strategy like that embodied in the Dark Triad to occupy and exploit a lowlight environment where others are sleeping and have diminished cognitive functioning," said Dr Peter Jonason, a psychologist at the University of Western Sydney.
In the 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. They also found that those who stayed up later tended to have a higher sense of entitlement and seemed to be more exploitative.
They could find no evidence, however, 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 of Personality and Individual Differences.