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Nov 02, 2013 05:40 AM EDT

People are Honest in the Mornings and Turn Liars in the Afternoons, Study

Authors suggest that difficult tasks should be done in the morning and less complicated ones for the afternoon.
(Photo : Flickr) Authors suggest that difficult tasks should be done in the morning and less complicated ones for the afternoon.

If you want to extract a truth or a strategy from someone, try to meet that person in the morning. A new study Harvard University's Edmond F. Safra Center for Ethics has found that people tend to be more optimistic, honest and moral in the mornings and turn into lazy and dishonest in the afternoons. By early evening, individuals also become grumpy and snappy and more likely to lie and cheat.

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Researchers said that individuals consider each new dawn as a new beginning. They appear fresh and excited to accomplish any tasks of the day. But certain annoying circumstances (bus being late, coffee spills, no callbacks either for an interview or date) lead them to behave in crooked ways. And that's where dissatisfaction, hatred and irritation slowly seep-in.

"From the moment people wake up in the morning, daily life requires the exertion of self-control," the study authors, Maryan Kouchaki and Isaac Smith said. "In deciding what to eat for breakfast, where to go and why, or even what to say and to whom, people regulate and control their desires and impulses.

"Normal, unremarkable experiences associated with everyday living can deplete one's capacity to resist moral temptations. In other words, people are more likely to act ethically and to overcome temptation in the morning than later in the day," NBC News reports.

For the study, the researchers divided 62 students into groups; with one attending the test in the morning and the other in the afternoon. They were asked observe triangles with numerous dots (100 squares that had been cut in half into two triangles). Participants were told to hit a button if they thought that there were more dots on the right side and to hit another if the dots were more on the left side. They were also told that they would be rewarded whether or not they were honest. The catch was that the authors put more dots squares' left side, which helped them spot the cheaters in the group.

The researchers found that the participants in the afternoon session took away more cash than people who came in the morning sessions.

To test the laziness, participants were again divided into morning and afternoon groups and were asked to choose between two types of reading material -The New York Review of Books and People magazine. Nearly 60 percent of the afternoon crew walked away with People when compared to 40 percent from the morning group.

This new study, published this week in the journal Psychological Science, indicates that the feeling of self-control which is abundant earlier in the day, runs out as the day passes by. As a result, the study suggests individuals to allocate complex tasks during morning sessions and push the less complicated ones for the afternoons.

 "Our message is simple yet important," the authors write. "The morning morality effect has notable implications for individuals and organizations, and it suggests that morally relevant tasks should be deliberately ordered throughout the day." 

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