Why We All Become Generally Crappier People as the Day Goes On

Experts from Harvard believe that we're more likely to lie, cheat and steal after the clock strikes noon

According to new research published in the journal Psychological Science, our morals fly out the window nearly every afternoon. Or at the very least, we become super sluggish or big time bitchy.

As reported by NBCNews.com, the study authors from Harvard University’s Edmond F. Safra Center for Ethics explained that we tend to begin each day with productive goals and plans and a feeling of self-control. But as the clock continues to tick, people annoy us and circumstances piss us off, causing us to behave in unscrupulous ways.

“Normal, unremarkable experiences associated with everyday living can deplete one’s capacity to resist moral temptations,” stated the experts. “In other words, people are more likely to act ethically and to overcome temptation in the morning than later in the day.”

In one experiment, the authors gathered 62 students and divided them between morning and afternoon sessions. They were instructed to look at triangles with dots and were told they’d be paid more money if they found more dots on the right side of the triangle -- the authors put the dots mostly on the left side -- and they’d be compensated whether or not they told the truth. Lo and behold, those in the p.m. session walked away with more cash.

When it came to testing laziness, volunteers were again divided into morning and afternoon groups and were asked to choose between two types of reading material -- something smart (The New York Review of Books) and something fluffy (People magazine). Nearly 60 percent of the afternoon crew grabbed People, compared to 40 percent earlier in the day.

While this research is somewhat comical, yet somewhat disturbing, in an odd way I think it makes sense. I believe most people view each day as a new beginning and walk out the door with a laundry list of tasks, not to mention a few hopes and dreams. So when the little things go awry (the bus is late, the coffee spills, you overhear a spoiler for Scandal) and the bigger things smack you in the face (no one is calling to schedule a job interview with you, no one is calling to date you) disappointment, resentment and frustration slowly seep in. And that’s most likely when the ask-me-if-I-give-a-sh*t attitude rears its ugly, lying, lazy head.

 

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