Moral Time: Does Our Internal Clock Influence Moral Judgments?
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Does morality depend on the time of the day? The study The Morning Morality Effect: The Influence of Time of Day on Unethical Behavior (1) published in October of 2013 by Maryam Kouchaki and Isaac Smith suggested that people are more honest in the mornings and that their ability to resist the temptation of lying and cheating wears off as the day progresses. In a series of experiments, Kouchaki and Smith found that moral awareness and self-control in their study subjects decreased in the late afternoon or early evening. The researchers also assessed the degree of “moral disengagement,” i.e. the willingness to lie or cheat without feeling much personal remorse or responsibility, by asking the study subjects to respond to questions such as, “Considering the ways people grossly misrepresent themselves, it’s hardly a sin to inflate your own credentials a bit,” or “People shouldn’t be held accountable for doing questionable things when they were just doing what an authority figure told them to do” on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Interestingly, the subjects who strongly disagreed with such statements were the most susceptible to the morning morality effect. They were quite honest in the mornings but significantly more likely to cheat in the afternoons. On the other hand, moral disengagers, i.e. subjects who did not think that inflating credentials or following questionable orders was a big deal, were just as likely to cheat in the morning as they were in the afternoons.