We’re more likely to cheat in the afternoon

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Raise your right hand and repeat after me, “I do solemnly swear…” wait a minute! Is it the morning? I want to make sure you keep your promise.

Do you consider yourself an honest person or have you cheated a lot of times in your life? Whatever the answer is, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Utah say we’re more honest in the morning, but by the afternoon, we’re likely to become a lesser version of ourselves and cheat!

For example, in one of their tests, a group of college students had to observe a bunch of dots on a screen and determine which side had more, the left or the right. Instead of getting paid for every correct answer, though, the students received money based on which side has more dots. In order to make it more tempting to cheat, the volunteers got 10 times more money if they “determined” the right side had more dots.

As the researchers had predicted, the students who took the test between the hours of 8:00am and 12:00pm were much less likely to lie than the students who were tested from 12:00pm to 6:00pm! They call this the “morning morality effect.” The study also revealed a relationship between this effect and something known as moral disengagement – how much people can lie and not feel guilty about it.

“Unfortunately, the most honest people, such as those less likely to morally disengage, may be the most susceptible to the negative consequences associated with the morning morality effect,” the researchers write. “Our findings suggest that mere time of day can lead to a systematic failure of good people to act morally.”

Well then, I guess this means I better nap if I want to behave like a good person!

Featured image courtesy of Tristan Schmurr on Flickr