One great thing about the morning is stepping out the door and breathing in the morning air. It just feels so refreshing and rejuvenating.
Turning on the television, even the news is amazing. They talk about feel-good stories about how everything is perfect. They tell you the stock market is doing well and that you can eat as many donuts as you want without any harmful health effects by simply hugging a puppy everyday.
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It all then comes crashing down in the afternoon where everyone is sweaty and grumpy. The news is all about how the world will end soon or that you can die if you touch your toothpick the wrong way. Its almost as if, people are totally different individuals in the morning and in the later times of the day.
As it turns out, people’s ethical behaviors may in fact be influenced by the time of day. A study suggests our moral compasses may be more reliable during the morning hours, and we will explore its link to people’s natural capability to be ethical.
Morning people are more honest
A series of social experiments at Harvard University and at the University of Utah tested 327 men and women on their levels of lying and cheating. In some of the studies, participants were told they would get paid 5 cents per problem solved.
Since the participants self-reported their scores, they get more money if they lie about having more correct answers. The results showed people in the afternoon tests were more likely to lie and cheat than the people tested in the morning.
Sleep deprivation leads to unethical behavior
The reasoning for this may be due to the fact that people have more energy reserves in the morning. There have been several studies that link self-control to the body’s energy reserves and how sleep-deprived people are more likely to cheat.
In a way, moral compass can be seen as a muscle that gets tired. Similar to a hulk capable of lifting thousands of pounds, individuals with strong moral compasses are capable of resisting temptations because they may have strengthened their moral compasses by consistently choosing more ethical decisions throughout their life.
The findings in this study explain why people seem to be nicer in the morning. It is not because they are totally different individuals, its most likely because they are capable of being nicer. Ethical behavior requires more self-control which requires more energy reserves. These energy reserves may also be influenced by the quality of your sleep.
Next time you are struggling to make an ethical decision, keep in mind that it is like a muscle you strengthen. Making an unethical decision right now means that you increase your likeliness of doing more unethical decisions in the future. Making an ethical decision will increase your capability to make more ethical decisions in the future. In essence, if you want to be a good person there is no better time to begin than now.
For more information about this subject read the original article by ScientificAmerican.