Do you like to stay up a lot later than everyone else? Do you love the silence of the night, 1980s television show marathons and infomercials for hair removal and weight loss? Perhaps you relish catching up on work and snacking on chocolate when no one is watching. Maybe you stay up so late, you could call a morning person on the phone as the sun is coming up and the birds are chirping. If so, you might be a nasty jerk, a new study says.
The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggests that a rather disturbing classification can be applied to those who stay up late. It sounds like something out a science fiction movie: “The Dark Triad.” This refers to three really terrible personality traits found more often in night owls: Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy. Ugh. Sounds pretty bad, huh?
Machiavellianism is defined as “The political doctrine of Machiavelli, which denies the relevance of morality in political affairs and holds that craft and deceit are justified in pursuing and maintaining political power.” Narcissism is a preoccupation with the self to the exclusion of others, and psychopathy is a mental illness often found in serial killers and other unsavory criminals who possess a complete lack of empathy.
The head researcher on the study, Peter K. Johnson, explains that night owls also tend to be at a peak of their cognitive processes and to take advantage of that cognitive ability to adopt unscrupulous traits:
We propose that in order to best enact a “cheater strategy” those high on the Dark Triad traits should have optimal cognitive performance and, thus, have a night-time chronotype. Such a disposition will take advantage of the low light, the limited monitoring, and the lessened cognitive processing of morning-type people.
Night owls also tend to possess an unusually high level of self-importance, be very self-absorbed, feel that they are entitled to things others aren’t and are more likely to engage in narcissistic behaviors. There is one upside to being a night owl, though: they also tend to be more creative and much less rigid than people who rise early.
So if you’re trying to date and you meet a night owl, should you run screaming in terror that you may end up like a Dexter victim? Not necessarily. The study was performed on college students and did not include a sample of working adults. Since college students tend toward staying up late anyway and getting very little sleep in general, the results may be a bit skewed.
It seems more research would have to be performed before scientists could make a definite conclusion about night owls being nasty jerks. So for now, grab a box of popcorn, put up your feet, turn on The Hallmark Channel and enjoy the midnight marathon of The Golden Girls. After all, how can you be a mean, narcissistic, Machiavellian psychopath while you’re watching Rose, Dorothy and Blanche participate in their crazy hijinks? Sure, a new study says night owls are nasty, but don’t let it keep you up at night.
By: Rebecca Savastio