If you’re a night owl, a psychologist will tell you that you have an evening-oriented “chronotype” — meaning that you feel more alert later in the day than those annoying morning people.
Recent research shows that you are also more likely to be a psychopath.
In a 2013 paper, a joint team of British and Australian researchers found that night owls tend to have the so-called Dark Triad of personality traits.
The traits are:
• Narcissism, or a need for dominance and a sense of entitlement.
• Psychopathy, or a willingness to manipulate people and a streak of social charm.
Machiavellianism, or a tendency toward impulsivity and regular antagonism toward other people.
The nighttime orientation serves as a kind of evolutionary adaptation for the Dark Triad personality type, argue authors Peter K. Jonason of the University of Western Sydney and Amy Jones and Minna Lyon of Liverpool Hope University.
The night, with its lower levels of light in the environment and lower levels of cognitive functioning in people, could be well-suited to the “fast life strategy” that the Dark Triad personality type embodies.
“Such features of the night may facilitate the casual sex, mate-poaching, and risk-taking the Dark Triad traits are linked to,” they argue.
The methodology of their research was clear-cut: 263 volunteers took an online study. The study had a range of personality quizzes, testing for narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism — plus a quiz for chronotypes.
The result? People who scored highly in the Dark Triad traits also tended to stay up late.
It makes a sinister sort of sense.
“Those high on the Dark Triad may be characterised by cognitive biases that orient them to occupy an environment that will facilitate their life history strategy,” the authors conclude. “In short, those high on the Dark Triad traits like many other predators (e.g., lions, African hunting dogs, scorpions), are creatures of the night.”
The paper made such a splash that it even won the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize, given for surprising or amusing scientific discoveries, for “amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.”
The takeaway? The next time you’re out late and meet someone charming, look out.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.