Tired People More Likely to Lie, Johns Hopkins Studies Say

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Here’s yet another reason we all should be getting a solid 8 hours of sleep a night: Not only does sleepiness negatively impact performance, but it also makes people more likely to lie, cheat, and act unethically, according to new research out of Johns Hopkins.

Researchers recruited subjects to perform a simple die-rolling task; the more tasks they completed, the more they’d get paid. They also sorted the groups into night owls (that is, people whose circadian rhythms mean they’re more alert at night) and larks (i.e., morning people). The researchers asked the study participants how many tasks they completed–which consequently determined their payment.

They found that so-called morning people were more likely to cheat at the game in the evening, perhaps because they were too tired to do the right thing; conversely, people who prefer to stay up late were more likely to act unethically in the morning hours.

There are important management ramifications to this study: “Managers who ask a lark to make ethics-testing decisions at night, or an owl to make such decisions in the morning,” the study’s authors wrote, “run the risk of encouraging rather than discouraging unethical behavior.”

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