Night owls may be psychopaths more likely to possess the so-called dark triad of evil personality traits. That’s the bold claim made in a new study by an international team of researchers from Australia and the United Kingdom, who published their findings in a journal called Personality and Individual Differences.
The dark triad personality traits are narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. OK, I guess I’ve met a few of those guys after dark.
Australian researcher Peter Jonason and colleagues wanted to prove that these rather psychopathic personality traits had evolved in the night owls for a purpose: “Such a disposition will take advantage of the low light, the limited monitoring, and the lessened cognitive processing of morning-type people” to succeed at naughty activities like mate poaching. Uh oh.
According to a BPS Research Digest look at the study, the researchers determined that the night owls among us were indeed found to be more likely to have the dark triad personality traits.
It turned out that the entire theory rests on an online survey of 263 students asked questions like, “During the first half hour after you wake up in the morning, how do you feel?” Like shooting myself, how does anybody feel? So that makes me evil now? I thought it just made me grouchy.
So it seems to me that the team is drawing a pretty large conclusion from pretty thin evidence.
But Jonason thinks the night owl and psychopathy linkage is solid. The Telegraph quotes him as saying:
“[T]he night may facilitate the casual sex, mate-poaching, and risk-taking the dark triad traits are linked to.
“In short, those high on the dark triad traits, like many other predators such as lions, African hunting dogs, and scorpions, are creatures of the night.”
I think we psychopathic night owls just got called dirty dogs. But I’m not so sure it’s science saying that.