People who have a tendency to stay up late are more likely to exhibit anti-social personality traits, like narcissism and psychopathy.
Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy — menacingly called ‘the Dark Triad’ — were all linked with the preference for late bedtimes in research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Jonason et al., 2013).
Dr. Peter K. Jonason, explained:
“Those who scored highly on the Dark Triad traits are, like many other predators such as lions and scorpions, creatures of the night.
For people pursuing a fast life strategy like that embodied by the Dark Triad traits, it’s better to occupy and exploit a lowlight environment where others are sleeping and have diminished cognitive functioning.”
The conclusions come from an online survey of 263 students which, along with their sleeping preferences, measured:
- Psychopathy: Characterised by reduced empathy, antisocial behaviour and disinhibition. Psychopaths are often very good at influencing others.
- Narcissism: Egomaniacs.
- Machiavellianism: Tendency to manipulate and exploit others without regard to morality.
Dr. Jonason continued:
“There is likely to be a co-evolutionary arms race between cheaters and those who wish to detect and punish them, and the Dark Triad traits may represent specialized adaptations to avoid detection.
The features of the night – a low-light environment where others are sleeping – may facilitate the casual sex, mate-poaching, and risk-taking the Dark Triad traits are linked to.
Indeed, most crimes and most sexual activity peak at night, suggesting just such a link.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do