Are You More Likely to Meet Dark Personalities Well After the Sun Sets?
Certain Personality Types May Define the 'Night Owl'
"Nothing good happens past midnight," your parents may have warned you, in attempting to rationalize your curfew as a teenager. While that (generous) time restriction might have seemed onerous in retrospect, consider the wisdom behind the words. Researchers have corroborated the parental advice regarding types of people you are likely to meet late at night.
Peter K. Jonason et al. In a the aptly entitled article, "Creatures of the Night" (2013) studied the Dark Triad personality and night versus day-time chronotypes.
Recognizing the Dark Triad personality as narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, they explored whether in furtherance of what they referred to as a "cheater strategy," people with high levels of Dark Triad traits would have optimal cognitive performance later in the day, and consequently, a night-time chronotype.
They found the Dark Triad composite to be associated with an evening disposition, particularly with the "darker" factors of the Dark Triad: secondary (or hostile/reactive) psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and exploitive narcissism.
A Certain Breed of Night Owls
Jonason et al. (ibid.) define chronotype as the propensity to go to bed early or late at night, and to wake up early or late in the morning. Some people are early risers who enjoy optimal cognitive functioning earlier in the day, while others are night owls who perform cognitively better late at night. Recognizing that people have the ability for both orientations, Jonason et al. suggest Dark Triad personalities might represent a “specialized adaptation” for nocturnal living.
Acknowledging prior research, they note that an evening chronotype has been linked to short-term mating success, risk-taking, impulsivity, and extraversion.
They also note that an evening chronotype is more commonly linked with individualistic predispositions as opposed to other-oriented, collectivistic dispositions.
Regarding gender differences, they found that although men may score higher than women on Dark Triad traits, they found no sex differences in chronotype.
Darkness Diminishes Detection
Jonason et al. (supra) recognize theoretically, a possible link between the Dark Triad and a night-time chronotype in order to avoid cheater detection.
They recognize that the Dark Triad traits are characterized by “entitlement, superiority, dominance (i.e., narcissism), glib social charm, manipulativeness (i.e., Machiavellianism), callous social attitudes, impulsivity, and interpersonal antagonism (i.e., psychopathy).”
They note that such traits could be adaptive by predisposing people to exploit advantages of the evening’s cover of darkness.
Considering there are less people awake, less light, and diminished cognitive processing of people who have a morning disposition, the authors note it is easier to facilitate a "cheater strategy" while avoiding detection.
Consistent with this observation, they note that both sexual and criminal activity reach highest levels at night. They suggest that Dark Triad individuals who enjoy greater cognitive functioning at night are able to outthink others who would seek to detect and punish them, and would also be less likely to have their activities detected due to "fewer vigilant eyes" and less capacity to see their exploitation due to the darkness.
They conclude that Dark Triad individuals pursuing a "fast life strategy" might find it adaptive to exploit a low-light environment while other people are asleep and experiencing less cognitive functioning.
Specifically, they note that evening time may facilitate Dark Triad-trait related goals of mate-poaching, casual sex, and risk-taking.
Does this mean you won’t meet nice people at night?
There are plenty of night owls who simply do their best work after hours, and a host of night-shift workers keeping society running while most people are asleep.
The key appears to be noticing what type of activities people engage in at night. Are they drinking at a bar, or studying at the library.
Because around the clock, actions speak louder than words.
This article was originally published in Psychology Today.
Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, PhD, is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance, and style. Her over 4,500 media appearances include major news outlets including CNN, Fox News Channel, HLN, FOX Business Network, and weekly appearances on Newsmax. She is author of Red Flags (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Reading People (Random House, revision). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin professionally with a rock band. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.
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