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Night Owl or Early Bird?

4 years ago 6 comments

Some swear by “early to bed, early to rise,” while for others, burning the midnight oil is the only way to go. Our chronotype governs when we are most alert and active – and therefore, most productive – during the day (or night, as the case may be), and like many aspects of our behavior, it may very well be influenced by our personality type as well.

Asking our community whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “You are more productive in the evening than in the morning” provided us with some insight into the potential relationship between chronotype and personality type. And where Extraverted and Introverted, as well as Thinking and Feeling, personality types were pretty evenly matched in agreeing with the statement, there did seem to be a bit of a discrepancy between Turbulent and Assertive variants (69.47% vs. 61.87%).

However, the biggest difference that could be seen was between Intuitive personality types (an overwhelming 73.36% agreeing) and Observant ones (a rather even split, weighted slightly towards “more productive at night,” with 56.05% agreeing), as well as those who could be classified as Prospecting (74.23% agreeing) as opposed to Judging (57.65% agreeing).

Agreement with “You are more productive in the evening than in the morning.”

What might these figures say about the impact of a person’s personality type on their working patterns? Let’s take a look at how the responses vary from role to role (type strategies having little apparent influence here, due to being governed by Extraversion/Introversion and Assertive/Turbulent scales) to better explore the question.

Agreement with “You are more productive in the evening than in the morning.”

Analysts and Diplomats

Both these roles had a clear majority of respondents who agreed that “night time is the right time,” matching almost exactly at 75.80% and 72.27%, respectively. Perhaps because Intuitives are quicker to flout convention than their more down-to-earth Observant counterparts, they may be more likely to rebel against the more orthodox philosophy of work that maintains productivity is the sole province of early birds. Whether waiting until the chaos of daytime phone calls, texts, and emails has subsided, or simply riding the caffeinated wave of an all-nighter to put the finishing touches on a project, the more abstract, speculative mind of an Intuitive seems to do better in a less conventional setting.

Thanks to the shared Intuitive trait, the top 3 night owls belong to one of these two groups: Turbulent Logicians (INTP-T) take the crown with a nearly unanimous vote (83.74% of respondents being more productive in the evening), followed by Turbulent Mediators (INFP-T) with 78.80% and Turbulent Debaters (ENTP-T, 78.48%).


Almost perfectly divided between night owls and early birds are the Sentinels (50.14% agreeing vs. 49.86% disagreeing), a role characterized by Observant and Judging traits. Sentinels, who tend to be industrious and traditional – hard workers and careful planners – are, of the four roles, the one most likely to expend most of their energy at, or soon after, the break of day. That said, the even split may also indicate ambivalence within the role: when asked a question such as, “When are you most productive?” the Sentinel may very well prefer to respond, “Always!”

The personality type most likely to be an early bird in this role group was Assertive Consul (ESFJ-A), at 45.38%.


Pragmatic and spontaneous, Explorers (who replied with 66.16% agreeing and 33.84% disagreeing) fall somewhere between the Analyst / Diplomat pair (who may be more prone to habitually working later than others) and the Sentinels (who have little problem with taking care of business early, even as they are capable of working long hours, should the occasion call for it).

Explorers, as a role defined by Observant and Prospecting tendencies, would seem to be pulled in two different directions, between the Observant desire to be practical, rising early and getting work done ASAP, and the Prospecting desire to be nonconformists, waiting until the time feels “right” to get down to business, even if that time happens to be when everyone else has packed up and went home. So the answer to “when are Explorers most productive” may simply be “when they need to be.”

As any night owls who have chugged coffee to stay awake through a morning meeting – or early birds who have ended up on the graveyard shift – can attest, one’s chronotype may be impossible to change. And though we don’t always get to choose our working hours, aligning them with the times when we are at our most productive whenever possible can pay dividends. As with other aspects of our daily lives, we may not always be able to have what our preferences insist upon, but the more that we can adapt our lives to fit our preferences – rather than attempting to be someone we are not – the better off we are.

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. If you have a minute to help us with our research, check out our Member Surveys.

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