I’ve always envied early risers, those who spring out of bed at the crack of dawn, ready, it seems, to take on the world. Of course their early vitality could be short-lived. Morning friskiness gives the impression of a positive nature but are ‘larks’ really more proactive people than ‘owls’?
Yes, according to Christoph Randler who surveyed 367 student participants and found a correlation between their self-reported ‘morningness’ (as revealed by their answers to questions about how easy they find it to get up in the morning and how alert they feel) and their self-reported proactivity (measured by their agreement with statements like ‘I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself’ and ‘I feel responsible for my own life’). The correlation was relatively weak (.11, where 1 would be a perfect match) but was statistically significant.
Randler also found proactivity to be (inversely) correlated with so-called ‘social jetlag’. This is caused by the mismatch between one’s biological time-keeping and the demands of social time, as betrayed by the difference in students’ choice of rise times between weekdays and weekends.
These findings suggest that morning people really are more proactive. What’s not clear is why – whether it’s because they really do have an inherent energy and drive or if instead it’s simply easier for morning people to be proactive in a world that is generally tailored towards rising early, rather than working late.
‘… [W]hether evening people could be more proactive in their lifestyles if they had less restrictive schedules (e.g. they could start work later in the day)’ is a question for future research, Randler said.
This is far from being the first study to look for associations between people’s sleep habits and other personality factors. Prior research suggests that evening people are more extraverted, pessimistic and creative, whilst morning people are more conscientious. Twin studies suggest that genetic differences explain a lot of the variation in people’s morningness and eveningness.
Randler, C. (2009). Proactive People Are Morning People. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39 (12), 2787-2797 DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00549.x