Today is Black Friday and with it, comes lots of shopping and negotiating for good buys. So… when is the best time to negotiate the best deal? Well, according to a study published about a month ago, people tend to be more honest and more ethical in the morning.
A small item in the Science Section of the November 5, 2013 New York Times caught my eye. It discussed a study published in Psychological Science conducted by researchers Maryam Kouchaki of Harvard University and Isaac Smith of the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business to determine if people tend to be more or less ethical as the day goes by. What they found is that people tend to be more ethical in the morning. To determine this, the researchers conducted two experiments in which:
…, college-age participants were shown various patterns of dots on a computer. For each pattern, they were asked to identify whether more dots were displayed on the left or right side of the screen. Importantly, participants were not given money for getting correct answers, but were instead given money based on which side of the screen they determined had more dots; they were paid 10 times the amount for selecting the right over the left. Participants therefore had a financial incentive to select the right, even if there were unmistakably more dots on the left, which would be a case of clear cheating.
In line with the hypothesis, participants tested between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm were less likely to cheat than those tested between 12:00 pm and 6:00pm – a phenomenon the researchers call the “morning morality effect.”
They also tested participants’ moral awareness in both the morning and afternoon. After presenting them with word fragments such as “_ _RAL” and “E_ _ _ C_ _” the morning participants were more likely to form the words “moral” and “ethical,” whereas the afternoon participants tended to form the words “coral” and “effects,” lending further support to the morning morality effect.
The researchers found the same pattern of results when they tested a sample of online participants from across the United States. Participants were more likely to send a dishonest message to a virtual partner or to report having solved an unsolvable number-matching problem in the afternoon, compared to the morning.
(Association for Psychological Science Press Release.)
So, not only is it better to go shopping in the morning, it seems that the morning is preferable for any sort of negotiating. If there is a dispute to mediate, it’s better to start in the morning because as the day wears on, the parties will be less resistant to engaging in unethical behavior.
Interesting… that our degree of morality is tied to our body clocks.
Just something to think about.
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