Magazine article Risk Management

Evil Afternoons

Magazine article Risk Management

Evil Afternoons

Article excerpt

I'm not what you would call a morning person. Granted, I rarely sleep past 6 a.m., even on weekends, but that's more of a habit ingrained into me at a young age by early-riser parents than something I do by conscious choice. In reality, I may be awake, but I have no interest in engaging with anyone on any level that might be considered human. My loved ones understand and, thankfully, are often of the same mindset. I used to carpool to work with a friend and we typically wouldn't even exchange greetings during our entire half-hour morning commute. We both knew better. Even today, my wife and I adjourn to separate rooms of the house when we wake up, basically because we have come to the realization that we might kill each other if forced to interact before, say, to a.m. (I may not know much about marriage, but I do know that one of the keys to a successful union is avoiding circumstances that will lead to murder.)

According to research, however, were probably a lot less homicidal in the morning than we think. In a study that was published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Utah uncovered what they called the "morning morality effect." Basically, we are more likely to lie, cheat, steal and do other unethical things (like murder our spouses) in the afternoon than in the morning. The theory is that the decisions and stresses of the day eventually wear us down, and, by the afternoon, our self-control is depleted enough that we are more apt to be dishonest.

The researchers conducted a couple of different experiments. In one, participants were shown patterns of dots on a computer and asked to identify whether the highest concentration was on the right or left. Regardless of the correct answer, they were paid 10 times more if they chose the right side, giving them an incentive to cheat. …

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