06.06.2023 change 06.06.2023

Early risers are happier, more conscientious, and ‘more religious’ say psychologists

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Religiosity may be a mediator in the well-established link between morningness and life satisfaction. This relationship, in turn, may be influenced by the level of conscientiousness of a given person, according to the analyses of psychologists from the University of Warsaw, published in PLOS ONE.

While some people prefer to get up early in the morning snd others prefer to sleep in, there are many intermediate behaviours between the two extremes. Previous studies have linked being an early riser to greater life satisfaction and being more conscientious. In the Paul Costa and Robert McCrae's five-factor personality model (called the Big Five model), conscientiousness is a personality trait that accounts for our tendency to be self-disciplined and persistent in achieving our goals. It is associated with high ambition, willingness to show one's abilities and a great need for competition.

Scientists from the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Warsaw - Joanna Gorgol, Dr. Paweł Łowicki and Dr. Maciej Stolarski investigated the relationships between these four areas - the time of getting up, conscientiousness, religiosity and satisfaction with life.

They also cite previous research that found a link between religiosity and feeling more satisfied with life - and conscientiousness. This in turn suggests that religiosity may be important for the shape of the relationship between being an early riser and feeling more satisfied with life, suggest scientists from the University of Warsaw.

At the same time, the scientists recall the popular saying that 'the early bird gets the worm'. The corresponding Polish proverbs roughly translates to 'the one who gets up early, gets rewarded by God'. The Polish version specifically mentions the 'divine blessing' of people who start the day early. 'We aimed to put the folk wisdom expressed in the Polish saying into an empirical test,’ the researchers write in a paper published in PLOS ONE.

To better understand the interplay between morningness-eveningness, conscientiousness, religiosity, and satisfaction with life, scientists from the University of Warsaw conducted two studies on adult Poles - groups of 500 and 728 people. Preferences regarding the time of getting up, life satisfaction and level of conscientiousness were determined through questionnaires. Members of one group were also asked whether they believed in God, while members of the other group were asked about their general level of religiosity.

The results of the study confirmed that being an early riser is associated with higher conscientiousness and life satisfaction. The results also suggest that being religious is associated with a preference for getting up early.

'In our study, +larks+ were more conscientious, which may have contributed to the development of their religiosity, and increased religiosity may have significantly supported their overall life satisfaction,’ says the first author of the study, Joanna Gorgol.

Learning about such relationships and links between psychological traits and tendencies to specific behaviours helps to understand the causes of a given behaviour and predict similar behaviours in the future, based on knowledge about the intensity of a given trait in a particular individual, the researcher comments.

Further analysis suggests that higher levels of religiosity among early risers may be at least partly responsible for the association between preferring to get up in the morning - and greater life satisfaction. And this relationship seems to be statistically affected by conscientiousness.

Based on the findings, the researchers speculate that early risers tend to be more conscientious, which makes them likely to be more religious, and that being religious may contribute to greater life satisfaction. They reserve that their study has not confirmed a causality between the investigated variables and does not account for the sociodemographic characteristics of the study participants. This requires further research, the scientists suggest.

PAP - Science in Poland

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