Are larks future-oriented and owls present-oriented? Age- and sex-related shifts in chronotype-time perspective associations

Kati Nowack, Elke van der Meer
Chronobiology International 2013, 30 (10): 1240-50
The chronotype (morningness/eveningness) relates to individual differences in circadian preferences. Time perspective (past, present, future) refers to the preference to rely on a particular temporal frame for decision-making processes and behavior. First evidence suggests that future time perspective is associated with greater morningness and present time perspective with greater eveningness. However, little is known about how chronotype-time perspective relationships may alter over the life span. This present study investigated links between chronotype and time perspective more thoroughly by taking age and sex into account as well. Seven hundred six participants aged between 17 and 74 completed German adaptations of the Morningness--Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ) and Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI). Controlling for age and sex, relationships between morningness and future time perspective as well as between eveningness and present time perspective were replicated. These findings were supported by significant associations between time perspective and midpoint of sleep. Future time perspective was linked to earlier midpoints of sleep, indicating an early chronotype. Present time perspective was associated with later midpoints of sleep, indicating a late chronotype. However, age and sex had an impact on the chronotype-time perspective relationships. In all age groups, male larks were more future-oriented and less present-oriented, male owls more present-oriented and less future-oriented. The same conclusion could be drawn for female adolescents and young adults. For female adults above 30, there was no interrelationship between morningness and future time perspective but between eveningness and past time perspective. Female adult owls were more present-oriented as well as more past-oriented. Female adult larks were less present-oriented and less past-oriented. Findings are discussed in the light of neuroendocrine and serotonergic functioning.

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