So many dark creatures are associated with the night time. Vampires can’t survive in sunlight after all, werewolves only become their true selves during the full moon and witches also can’t get a good broom ride in until there are fewer people around to see it. But it isn’t just mythical creatures that truly play into their strengths at night. According to new research, psychopaths or even people with dark traits that are fully functioning individuals and upstanding citizens (and often extremely successful at their jobs) tend to be night owls.
Dark personality traits have been defined as selfishness, narcissism, and entitlement tend to also put their ambition above all others. But there is something known as the Dark Triad, which refers to three distinct and extremely dark personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy.
A team of researchers from Sydney and Liverpool looked at whether people with these Dark traits had any association with people who feel they perform at their best level and feel their best during the night time hours. In order to do this, the scientists looked at the chronotypes of 263 participants. Chronotypes are the sleep and behavioral patterns of an individual that are driven by underlying circadian rhythms.
After assessing the subjects’ chronotypes, the researchers found that the ones that preferred night all ranked higher in narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy than the subjects who had morning chronotypes.
Now, as Ladders has recently reported, being a narcissist isn’t necessarily all that bad as narcissists have some very enviable qualities such as confidence and strong leadership skills. Some people who test positively for psychopathy can also be highly successful and functional. According to Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, while only 1% of the population are psychopaths, 4% of business leaders and CEOs are psychopaths.
“People high in psychopathy have ‘dark’ impulses, but some of these individuals are able to either inhibit them or find a socially acceptable outlet for them. The compensatory model posits that these individuals have enhanced self-regulation abilities, which are able to compensate for their antisocial impulses and facilitate their ‘success,'” wrote David Chester, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, in a study he co-authored that looked at the brains of successful psychopaths.
However, in this study, it was found that the night owls identified with the darkest traits in the triad. They checked off on Machiavellianism (super manipulative, domineering), the most harmful type of narcissism and secondary psychopathy (superficialness, shallow and more manipulation.)
So why do psychopaths tend to thrive at night? The researchers believe it goes back to the beginning of time. The morning people, way back in the day, were the equivalent of policemen today. They made sure the rules were followed. The psychopaths knew they could get away with more at night so this became their time to shine.
The researchers did point out that this was a correlational study not experimental and of course, if you are a night owl it does not mean you are a psychopath. However if you are suspicious that your boss or coworker may be a psychopath, try to decipher if they prefer the morning or night.
Another sign they may exhibit is in their pupil size. A recent study, published in the journal Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, looked at 82 male mentally disordered offenders and analyzed how their pupils reacted to different visual stimuli including images of real-world scenes (some were pleasant images but others were quite graphic), auditory sound clips, and videos of dynamic facial expressions. The researchers found that the pupils of non-psychopaths dilated if the video or photo was disturbing, but this didn’t occur in the psychopath’s eyes.
Why does this matter? The size of your pupil says a lot about how you are feeling and what kind of person you are. Our eyes dilate when we see something upsetting, shocking, difficult to process or exciting. It is part of our fight, flight or freeze response. That is why we see so many scary movie posters with wide-eyed scared faces (think Blair Witch Project, Scream.) Some experts believe that our eyes dilate when we are scared or worried so we can take in more visual information.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Dan Burley, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, said, “Our findings provide physical evidence of an emotional deficit common to psychopathic offenders. Card sharks have learned to look carefully at the eyes of their opponents to gauge if they have a great hand, and many an astute salesperson knows to up their price if your eyes reveal your excitement at their product. Likewise, the pupil usually dilates when an image shocks or scares us. The fact that this normal physiological response to a threat is reduced in psychopathic offenders provides us with an obvious physical marker for this condition.”
Here are more signs you may be working with a psychopath.