An example from Stuff, this time
Sah and her colleagues found that this internal clock also affects our ability to behave ethically at different times of day. To make a long research paper short, when we’re tired we tend to fudge things and cut corners.
Sah measured this by finding out the chronotypes of 140 people via a standard self-assessment questionnaire, and then asking them to complete a task in which they rolled dice to win raffle tickets – higher rolls, more tickets.
Participants were randomly assigned to either early morning or late evening sessions. Crucially, the participants self-reported their dice rolls.
You’d expect the dice rolls to average out to around 3.5. So the extent to which a group’s average exceeds this number is a measure of their collective result-fudging.
“Morning people tended to report higher die-roll numbers in the evening than the morning, but evening people tended to report higher numbers in the morning than the evening,” Sah and her co-authors wrote.
The research paper is here. The Washington Post, where the story was taken from, has a graph of the results, and they match the story. Note that this is one of the very few cases where starting a bar chart at zero is a bad idea. It’s hard to roll zero on a standard die.
The research paper also has a graph of the results, which makes the effect look bigger, but in this case is defensible as 3.5 really is “zero” for the purposes of the effect they are studying
Unfortunately,neither graph has any indication of uncertainty. The evidence of an effect is not negligible, but it is fairly weak (p-value of 0.04 from 142 people). It’s easy to imagine someone might do an experiment like this and not publish it if they didn’t see the effect they expected, and it’s pretty certain that you wouldn’t be reading about the results if they didn’t see the effect they expected, so it makes sense to be a bit skeptical.
The story goes on to say
These findings have pretty big implications for the workplace. For one, they suggest that the one-size-fits-all 9-to-5 schedule is practically an invitation to ethical lapses.
Even assuming that the effect is real and that lying about a die roll in a psychological experiment translates into unethical behaviour in real life, the findings don’t say much about the ’9-to-5′ schedule. For a start, none of the testing was conducted between 9am and 5pm.