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Early Birds and Night Owls: Differences in Media Preferences, Usages, and Environments

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Morningness-eveningness is an individual difference that explains variations in rhythmic expression of biological and behavioral patterns. Based on an online survey of 1,210 Internet users, this study explores differences between day and night persons in their media preferences, uses, and environments. Findings indicate that morning persons are inclined toward using traditional media in traditional environments, whereas night persons reported significantly higher preference for and use of new media in more varied locations. Results remained significant after controlling for sociodemographics. The findings suggest that night persons, previously described as “socially jet-lagged,” are also “technologically jet-lagged” individuals who tend to be ahead of others in terms of new technologies. This technological jet lag may represent a coping strategy that promotes adjustment to societal clocks.
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Early Birds and Night Owls:
Differences in Media Preferences, Usages, and Environments
GALIT NIMROD
1
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Morningness-eveningness is an individual difference that explains variations in rhythmic
expression of biological and behavioral patterns. Based on an online survey of 1,210
Internet users, this study explores differences between day and night persons in their
media preferences, uses, and environments. Findings indicate that morning persons are
inclined toward using traditional media in traditional environments, whereas night
persons reported significantly higher preference for and use of new media in more varied
locations. Results remained significant after controlling for sociodemographics. The
findings suggest that night persons, previously described as “socially jet-lagged,” are
also “technologically jet-lagged” individuals who tend to be ahead of others in terms of
new technologies. This technological jet lag may represent a coping strategy that
promotes adjustment to societal clocks.
Keywords: audience research, chronotype, media habits, morningness, social cognitive
theory
Introduction
Science has long documented individual differences in circadian rhythms and preferences
associated with morning or evening activities. Although morningness-eveningness literature suggests that
these differences may be described as a continuum (Natale & Cicogna, 2002), they are often viewed
dichotomously, underscoring the contrast between morning persons and night persons (Randler, 2008a).
Morning persons, commonly referred to as “larks” or “early birds,” tend to go to sleep and get up early
and perform mentally and physically best in the morning hours. The night persons, or “owls,” prefer to go
to bed and wake up at a later time and best perform, both mentally and physically, in the late afternoon
or evening.
Galit Nimrod: gnimrod@bgu.ac.il
Date submitted: 20140611
1
This article builds on a collaborative study of European media audiences in the context of EU COST Action
IS0906.
134 Galit Nimrod International Journal of Communication 9(2015)
Hundreds of studies conducted over the past decades have explored various aspects of this
diurnal dichotomy. However, references to it in communication research are rather scarce. Adopting social
cognitive theory (Bandura, 2001), which claims that every human behavior may be better understood
once the “person,” the “behavior,” and the “environment” are examined, this study seeks to explore
differences in media preferences (person), use (behavior), and place (environment) of day and night
persons, respectively.
Literature Review
Morningness-eveningness (also known as circadian typology or chronotype) is an individual
difference that explains variations in the rhythmic expression of biological and behavioral patterns. It is
associated with many circadian rhythmscommon biological variables such as body temperature, heart
rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels that display a definite periodicity with a cycle length of 24 hours
(Adan et al., 2012). There is considerable evidence demonstrating that individual differences are genetic
(Klei et al., 2005; Vink, Vink, Groot, Kerkhof, & Boomsma, 2001). Nevertheless, genetic variability
accounts for less than half the total variance, and morningness-eveningness may be affected by many
environmental, social, and personal factors.
Environmental factors documented in the literature include climate zone, longitude, and latitude,
with more morning orientation in Central Europe toward both the East and North as well as more night
orientation in subtropical climates (Randler, 2008b). Furthermore, people born in autumn and winter tend
to be morning persons, whereas those born in spring and summer are more likely to be night owls
(Chotai, 2005; Natale & Adan, 1999; Natale, Adan, & Chotai, 2002). Such findings demonstrate the
significance of sunlight exposure to morningness.
Social factors consist of cultural norms and traditions such as the siesta in Spain (Randler & Díaz-
Morales, 2007) as well as normative social schedules such as work and school hours (Wittmann, Dinich,
Merrow, & Roenneberg, 2006). Studies have demonstrated, for example, that young workers tend to be
more morning oriented than students of the same age. Thus, entering the work force appears to promote
a change in diurnal rhythms (Mecacci & Zani, 1983; Park, Matzumoto, Seo, Shinkoda, & Park, 1997).
Moreover, morningness was found to be associated with greater lifestyle regularity (Monk, Buysse, Potts,
DeGrazia, & Kupfer, 2004).
Personal factors include gender, with most evidence demonstrating that females are significantly
more morning oriented than males (for review, see Randler, 2007), as well as age. Teenagers tend to shift
toward eveningness (Kim, Dueker, Hasher, & Goldstein, 2002), regressing at the end of puberty
(Roenneberg et al., 2004). As adults age, they become more inclined toward morningness (Klei et al.,
2005; Paine, Gander & Travier, 2006), a phenomenon attributed to the physical changes associated with
aging processes, such as changes in circadian melatonin and temperature rhythms (Duffy, Dijk, Hall, &
Czeisler, 1999).
Psychological studies have examined the association between morningness-eveningness and
cognition, personality, and mental health. Although night persons were found to be more likely to have
International Journal of Communication 9(2015) Early Birds and Night Owls 135
higher intelligence scores (Roberts & Kyllonen, 1999), morning-oriented students tended to exhibit better
academic achievement (Beşoluk, Önder, & Deveci, 2011; Randler & Frech, 2006). This contradiction may
be clarified by social schedules (Wittmann et al., 2006), because school and examination times are
typically during morning hours.
Night persons were found to be more extroverted (Neubauer, 1992; Wilson, 1990), impulsive
(Caci, Robert, & Boyer, 2004, Neubauer, 1992), novelty seeking (Caci et al., 2004; Chotai, 2005),
sensation seeking (Tonetti et al., 2010), and risk taking (Killgore, 2007) than others, and morning persons
were more conscientious and agreeable (Randler, 2008c) and more activity-oriented (Muro, Gomà-i-
Freixanet, & Adan, 2009). Morningness was also associated with greater acceptance of social values
(conservation and self-transcendence), whereas eveningness was correlated with preference for individual
values, such as openness to change, and self-enhancement (Vollmer & Randler, 2012).
Furthermore, morning persons were found to be more emotionally stable (Muro et al., 2009),
whereas eveningness was associated with more frequent and intense reported psychological and
psychosomatic disorders (Mecacci & Rocchetti, 1998), lower levels of life satisfaction (Randler, 2008a),
and higher levels of depression (Hasler, Allen, Sbarra, Bootzin, & Bernert, 2010; Konttinen et al., 2014;
Randler, 2011), anxiety (Díaz-Morales & Sánchez-López, 2008; Lemoine, Zawieja, & Ohayon, 2013),
addiction disorders, and personality disorders (Lemoine et al., 2013). Eveningness was also associated
with health-impairing behaviors such as substance abuse (Gau et al., 2007; Urbán, Magyaródi, & Rigó,
2011), physical inactivity (Randler, 2011; Urbán et al., 2011), and emotional eating (Konttinen et al.,
2014).
The few studies that have assessed morningness-eveningness in terms of media use have
revealed that eveningness was associated with spending more time in front of screens, including
computers, television sets, and video game consoles (Kauderer & Randler, 2013; Shochat, Flint-Bretler, &
Tzischnsky, 2010; Urbán et al., 2011; Vollmer, Michel, & Randler, 2012). Other studies have found that
eveningness was also associated with more problematic media use, including increased computer and
mobile phone use in bed before going to sleep (Fossum, Nordnes, Storemark, Bjorvatn, & Pallesen, 2014),
compulsive Internet use (Lin & Gau, 2013; Randler, Horzum, & Vollmer, 2013), and computer game
addiction (Vollmer, Randler, Horzum, & Ayas, 2014). Similarly, studies have shown correlations between
evening use of television, computer games, and the Internet to delayed bedtimes (Brunborg et al., 2011;
Cain & Gradisar, 2010; Custers & Van den Bulck, 2012).
Overall, previous studies have suggested an association between eveningness and more
(problematic) media use. However, as noted by Fossum and colleagues (2014), these studies had several
significant weaknesses. First, they focused primarily on students and adolescents, who tend to shift
toward eveningness and have schedules different from those of adults (Kim et al., 2002; Roenneberg et
al., 2004). Second, they tended to examine electronic media only and typically were limited to one or two
electronic devices. Third, most studies examined frequency of use rather than duration and thus were
limited in their ability to describe use patterns. Finally, most previous research overlooked location
entirely, except when addressing media use in bed.
136 Galit Nimrod International Journal of Communication 9(2015)
The present study seeks to expand understanding of the association between morningness-
eveningness and media use by investigating users of all ages, examining a wide range of media (including
traditional and new media), measuring duration rather than frequency of use, and relating to location of
use. Specifically, it explores whether people who define themselves as morning persons differ from self-
defined night persons in their media preferences, usage, and place of use. Adoption of the social cognitive
theory (Bandura, 2001) approach by relating to person (preferences), behavior (media usages), and
environment (places of use) improve comprehension of this human phenomenon and its implications in
audience research.
Method
Data Collection and Sample
The study was based on a national online survey of 1,210 Israeli Internet users that was part of a
large cross-European audience research project. Data were collected by a commercial firm. Participants
were randomly recruited from a panel of 60,000 Internet users ages 14 and older. Gender, age, income,
and residential area quotas were instituted to ensure that the sample is representative of the country’s
population. Once each quota was full, the survey was automatically closed to additional participants from
the defined population group. Respondents were 14 to 75 years old, and the mean age was 38.3 years
(SD = 15.79). Fifty-one percent were female, 52.5% were married and had children, and 28.9% were
single. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents had some postsecondary education, 32.4% reported
having income higher than average, and 31.5% reported income lower than average. Fifty-two percent
worked full time, 14% worked part time, 18.9% were students, and 6% were retired.
Data collection was facilitated by SurveyGizmo software. Groups of questions referring to specific
subjects were presented on separate pages, and respondents could not proceed to the next page without
answering all the questions on the previous one. This method guaranteed very few incidents of missing
data. It should be noted, however, that certain questions included “do not rememberand/or “prefer not
to respond” options. Furthermore, respondents aged 14 to 18 years old were not presented with questions
regarding employment status, income, and family status. Because participation was anonymous, the study
was exempted from human subject review.
Measurement
The questionnaire was based on a study by Jensen and Helles (2011) and was further developed
by all partners of the cross-European audience research project. It included closed-ended questions that
explored the following areas:
Media preferences. Respondents were presented with five hypothetical daily situations
representing various needs: urgent and nonurgent information, urgent and nonurgent personal
communication, and leisure. For each situation, they were given a list of media alternatives and were
asked to mark the three they were most likely to use. The number of alternatives ranged from 7 to 14,
depending on the situation. Sample situations include: “Imagine that you are going to contact an old
International Journal of Communication 9(2015) Early Birds and Night Owls 137
acquaintance that you have lost touch with” (nonurgent personal communication) and “Imagine you have
a few hours of free time to yourself” (leisure).
Media use the day before responding to the survey. Respondents were asked to think about
the previous day and report how much time they spent using various media. This part of the questionnaire
was split into two phases. The first related to traditional mass media (e.g., television, radio, newspapers)
and differentiated between old media and digital/Internet-based use (via computer and cellular phone),
and the second considered various Internet-based activities, such as use of social network services
(SNSs), blogging, and playing online games. Respondents were also asked to report the number of mobile
phone conversations they had had and the number of text, image, and sound messages they had sent the
previous day. In addition, they were presented with a list of 19 mobile phone functions and were asked to
report which functions they used.
Places of media use. For television, radio, newspaper, and Internet use, respondents were
presented with a list of three at-home (e.g., in the living room) and five out-of-home locations (e.g., at
work, at school, public spaces) and were asked to mark all locations that applied to their own use of each
medium.
Background questionnaire. The questionnaire included 10 demographic and sociodemographic
questions. The variables examined were: sex, age, family status, education, income, employment status,
type of occupation, residential area, satisfaction with health, and satisfaction with life (the last two on a
scale ranging from 1 to 10, with higher scores representing more satisfaction).
Self-defined morningness. The last page of the Israeli survey provided respondents with a
short description of day-night orientation. It explained that all persons have specific times during the day
when they are most energetic and efficient, and that whereas the “morning persons are at their best in
the morning, night persons are at their peak in the afternoon and can commonly function well until late at
night.” Respondents were asked to indicate which category better described them. In line with the
common perception of morningness as a dichotomy (Randler, 2008a), respondents were provided with
only two alternatives.
Data Analysis
Data were analyzed using SPSS v.20 software. Sample participants were split into two groups
based on the self-defined morningness question. To identify significant differences between groups with
regard to media preferences, use, places, and background characteristics, cross-tabulations,
2
tests, and
t tests were employed. In multiple-choice questions,
2
tests were conducted per item. Because
differences in media use could be affected by various background factors, a series of regressions (five
logistic regressions and one linear regression) was conducted. Dependent variables were media usages
that were found to be significantly different among morning and night persons. Independent variables
were sociodemographic factors that were found to be significantly different for morning and night persons
as well as the day-night orientation.
138 Galit Nimrod International Journal of Communication 9(2015)
Results
Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Media Preferences
Overall, 67.2% of the people in the sample (n = 813) defined themselves as morning persons,
and 32.8% (n = 397) as night persons. Examination of respondents’ preferred media in various
hypothetical situations demonstrated that the three top-rated media for each function were identical
among morning and night persons. However, a series of cross-tabulations and
2
tests identified many
significant differences between the groups regarding the percentage of individuals indicating each medium
as a preferred option. These findings suggest a greater preference for new media among night persons
and more fondness for traditional media among morning persons (see Table 1).
Table 1. Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Media Preferences.
Function
Preferred medium
Percentage of participants who prefer the
medium
Self-definition
The
sample
(N =
1,210)
(n = 813)
Night
persons
(n = 397)
Informationurgent
Websites
87.2
86.4
Television/radio
53.7
54.1
Telephone*
44.3
48.4
Informationnonurgent
Search engines
86.9
85.7
Specific websites*
70.3
66.6
Telephone*
41.6
46.2
Personal communication
urgent
Telephone*
83.1
86.1
E-mail**
54.9
60.7
SNSs***
56.9
49.3
Personal communication
nonurgent
Telephone
85.1
87.2
Text message
72.3
70.9
SNSs**
69.5
63.1
Leisure
Television
49.9
51.0
Telephone*
35.8
40.2
SNSs***
45.1
35.7
Note. For each function, respondents were provided with a detailed example and were asked to mark the
three media they were most likely to choose. Only the three top-rated media for each function are
reported here.
***
p < 0.001.
**
p < 0.01.
*
p < 0.05.
International Journal of Communication 9(2015) Early Birds and Night Owls 139
Considerably more people among the morning persons chose telephone calls for information
needs, both urgent (50.4% vs. 44.3% among the night persons, p = .046) and nonurgent (48.5% vs.
41.6%, p = .024), for urgent personal communication (87.6% vs. 83.1%, p = .035), and for leisure
(42.3% vs. 35.8%, p = .029). Morning persons also tended to choose e-mail for urgent personal
communication (63.6% vs. 54.9%, p = .004). Significantly more people among the night persons chose
SNSs for personal communication needs, both urgent (56.9% vs. 45.5% among morning persons, p <
.001) and nonurgent (69.5% vs. 59.9%, p = .001) and for leisure (45.1% vs. 31.1%, p < .001). In
addition, the night persons tended to choose specific websites for nonurgent information needs (70.3% vs.
64.8%, p = .049).
Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Media Use
Differences in media preferences were manifested in respondents’ reported media use the day
before they took the survey. Analysis identified several differences between morning and night persons
with regard to mass media use (see Table 2). A far higher percentage of morning persons reported
watching television on a television set (82.7% vs. 72.3% among the night persons, p < .001), listening to
the radio on a radio set (63.5% vs. 51.9%, p < .001), and reading print newspapers (61.7% vs. 50.6%, p
< .001). Furthermore, there was a significant difference among the individuals who reported reading
online newspapers during the day before the survey t(868) = 2.295, p = .022. On average, morning
persons spent more time doing so (M = 40.17 minutes, SD = 51.50) than the night persons (M = 32.64
minutes, SD = 31.93).
A comparison between the groups with regard to online activities (see Table 3) identified two
more significant differences between the groups. In this case, the night persons had considerably higher
percentages of respondents reporting that the day before the survey they used SNSs (82.7% vs. 72.3%
among the morning persons, p = .006) or posted entries at chat sites, blogs, and so on (63.5% vs.
51.9%, p = .014). No significant differences were found with regard to the time spent on various online
activities on the day before the survey.
Despite the morning persons’ higher reported preference for telephones, no significant
differences were found between the groups with regard to the number of mobile phone conversations they
had (t(893) = 1.319, p = .188) and the number of text, image, and sound messages they sent (t(810) =
0.321, p = .748) the previous day. By contrast, responses to the question examining use of various
mobile phone applications indicated that night persons had significantly higher rates of individuals who
reported use of four such applications: watching television or videos (44.9% vs. 37.1%, p = .014),
listening to music (54.5% vs. 45.1%, p = .003), recording video (61.9% vs. 55.7%. p = .049), and using
alarm clocks and reminders (90.1% vs. 84.6%, p = .012).
140 Galit Nimrod International Journal of Communication 9(2015)
Table 2. Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Mass Media Use.
Medium
Percentage of participants who
reported using the medium
yesterday
Average reported use time (in minutes)
Self-definition
p
Self-definition
t
df
p
Morning
persons
Night
persons
Morning
persons
Night
persons
TV on a TV
set
82.7
72.3
.000***
112.22
(71.60)
120.61
(97.91)
1.461
931
.144
TV on a
computer
40.7
43.8
.302
87.62
(134.06)
87.32
(193.06)
0.025
473
.980
TV on a
mobile
19.4
21.2
.481
39.46
(112.59)
37.93
(69.10)
0.106
212
.916
Radio on a
radio set
63.5
51.9
.000***
92.94
(190.57)
95.98
(315.78)
0.188
674
.851
Radio on a
computer
30.1
26.7
.216
116.33
(156.27)
95.05
(144.70)
1.131
315
.259
Radio on
mobile
20.0
20.4
.885
33.16
(49.96)
41.94
(79.95)
0.975
210
.331
Print
newspapers
61.7
50.6
.000***
32.47
(26.3)
33.82
(55.76)
0.422
660
.673
Online
newspapers
74.8
77.6
.287
40.17
(51.50)
32.64
(31.93)
2.295
868
.022*
Print books
44.3
43.6
.817
49.42
(62.31)
51.27
(49.95)
0.325
478
.745
Electronic
books
14.8
13.4
.511
30.22
(70.93)
33.88
(50.77)
0.303
139
.762
Audio
books
9.6
8.6
.562
6.25
(18.50)
5.48
(13.51)
0.188
83
.851
Audio
players
56.5
59.1
.514
80.29
(102.83)
63.31
(71.85)
1.640
359
.102
Video
players
46.5
45.6
.842
71.97
(50.20)
67.19
(48.10)
.689
242
.491
Note. Numbers in parentheses represent standard deviations.
***
p < 0.001.
**
p < 0.01.
*
p < 0.05.
International Journal of Communication 9(2015) Early Birds and Night Owls 141
Table 3. Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Online Activities.
Online activity
Percentage of participants
who reported involvement in
the previous day
Average reported use time (in minutes)
Self-definition
Self-definition
Morning
persons
Night
persons
p
Morning
persons
Night
persons
t
df
p
Getting news
81.9
81.4
.813
31.60
(38.61)
29.03
(24.40)
1.046
900
.296
E-mails
90.0
90.9
.621
52.82
(78.29)
47.36
74.65)
1.063
1,015
.288
Downloading
content
20.0
22.7
.293
34.42
(74.54)
25.86
(31.11)
0.951
198
.343
Computer
games
25.7
29.7
.140
51.14
(68.18)
53.50
(74.17)
0.267
271
.790
Social network
sites
69.2
76.8
.006**
60.48
(104.27)
74.96
(113.33)
1.805
788
.071
Chat programs
29.3
28.5
.770
36.72
(97.91)
44.11
(78.25)
0.632
285
.528
Reading entries
36.0
39.3
.271
34.38
(62.96)
41.52
(91.80)
0.898
384
.370
Posting entries
15.0
20.7
.014*
31.07
(74.75)
34.00
(110.52)
0.198
154
.844
Online shopping
35.2
34.3
.752
16.23
(14.35)
16.23
(13.93)
0.000
373
1.000
Websites of
interests or
hobbies
58.9
62.2
.271
44.71
(84.28)
50.54
(87.74)
0.812
628
.417
Note. Numbers in parentheses represent standard deviations.
***
p < 0.001.
**
p < 0.01.
*
p < 0.05.
142 Galit Nimrod International Journal of Communication 9(2015)
Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Places of Media Use
Differences between morning and night persons were found not only with regard to the types of
media they tended to use but also the places they did so (see Table 4). A series of cross-tabulations and
2
tests identified some significant differences (p < .005) with regard to mass media use. The night
persons had higher rates of respondents who reported reading printed newspapers at school or other
places of study (17.6% vs. 12.8% among the morning persons, p = .024) or while traveling (41.3% vs.
35.3%, p = .042). They also had higher rates of respondents who reported watching television in public
spaces (10.8% vs. 5.4%, p = .001), whereas morning persons had higher rates of respondents who
reported listening to the radio while traveling (68.6% vs. 62.2%, p = .026).
The number of differences and their significance were greater with regard to Internet use: Night
persons had higher rates of respondents who reported using the Internet in five locations, including the
bedroom (54.9% vs. 42.3% among the morning persons, p < .001), at the homes of friends and family
(42.6% vs. 33.1%, p = .001), at school or other places of study (33.8% vs. 20.8%, p < .001), while
traveling (43.1% vs. 34.8%, p = .005), and in public spaces (42.1% vs. 30.8%, p < .001). Thus, it may
be argued that night persons are significantly more “switched on” than morning persons.
Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Background Characteristics
Because differences in media use could be affected by various sociodemographic factors, it was
necessary to examine the differences between the background characteristics of morning and night
persons and then control for differentiating factors. Analysis identified significant differences between
morning and night persons in family status, employment status, income level, age, and satisfaction with
life (see Table 5). With regard to family status, there were considerably more married individuals with
children among the morning persons and considerably more single individuals with no children among the
night persons (²(7, N = 1,111) = 38.85, p = .000). Similarly, there were considerably more individuals
who worked full time among the morning persons and considerably more students among the night
persons (²(7, N = 1,111) = 36.43, p = .000).
Analysis also displayed significant differences between morning and night persons with regard to
monthly personal income level (²(7, N = 1,111) = 29.01, p = .000). A much higher percentage of night
persons reported incomes far below average or preferred not to respond to the income question. There
was also a significant effect for age (t(1,208) = 4.349, p = .001): The reported age of morning persons
was significantly older than that of night persons (M = 39.63 vs. 35.46). Moreover, morning persons
reported higher satisfaction with life (t(1,208) = 2.790, p = .005) than night persons (M = 7.62 vs. 7.32).
Morning and night persons did not differ with regard to gender (²(1, N = 1,210) = 0.65, p = .422), level
of education (²(7, N = 1,210) = 9.30, p = .232), type of occupation (²(10, N = 1,210) = 12.16, p =
.274), type of residential area (²(5, N = 1,210) = 1.46, p = .918), or satisfaction with health (t(1,208) =
0.975, p = .330).
International Journal of Communication 9(2015) Early Birds and Night Owls 143
Table 4. Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Places of Media Use.
The sample
(N = 1,210)
Self-definition
Morning
persons
(n = 813)
Night
persons
(n = 397)
Newspapers
70.0
68.3
70.8
At homeliving room
38.6
39.5
38.1
At homebedroom
27.4
27.0
27.7
At homeother
23.1
25.9
21.6
At friends or family
27.6
27.2
27.8
At work
14.4
17.6
12.8
At school or other place of study*
37.3
41.3
35.3
While traveling*
30.7
33.0
29.5
In public spaces (e.g., cafes)
Radio
38.6
35.8
40.0
At homeliving room
22.1
21.7
22.4
At homebedroom
17.6
17.4
17.7
At homeother
6.4
6.3
6.5
At friends or family
24.8
23.2
25.6
At work
2.5
2.0
2.7
At school or other place of study
66.5
62.2
68.6
While traveling*
3.1
2.5
3.3
In public spaces (e.g., cafes)
Television
81.6
79.1
82.8
At homeliving room
50.6
51.4
50.2
At homebedroom
19.1
19.1
19.1
At homeother
36.2
39.0
34.8
At friends or family
5.1
4.3
5.5
At work
2.2
2.5
2.1
At school or other place of study
3.6
4.8
3.0
While traveling
7.2
10.8
5.4
In public spaces (e.g., cafes)**
Internet
62.7
65.0
61.6
At homeliving room
46.4
54.9
42.3
At homebedroom***
58.9
59.7
58.5
At homeother
36.2
42.6
33.1
At friends or family**
62.1
62.2
62.0
At work
25.0
33.8
20.8
At school or other place of study***
37.5
43.1
34.8
While traveling**
34.5
42.1
30.8
In public spaces (e.g., cafes)***
Note. Numbers represent percentages.
***
p < 0.001.
**
p < 0.01.
*
p < 0.05.
144 Galit Nimrod International Journal of Communication 9(2015)
Table 5. Differences Between Morning and Night Persons in Background Characteristics.
The
sample
Self-definition
Night
persons
Morning persons
Family status (%)
28.9
38.9
24.0
Single, no children
1.6
1.6
1.6
Single, with children
7.8
8.2
7.6
Married, no children
52.5
40.0
58.6
Married, with children
1.1
1.1
1.1
Divorced, no children
6.7
8.2
5.9
Divorced, with children
0.1
0.0
0.1
Widowed, no children
1.4
1.9
1.1
Widowed, with children
(1,111)
(365)
(746)
N
Employment status (%)
52.5
44.7
56.3
Full time
14.0
14.5
13.8
Part time
5.8
5.8
1.9
Unemployed
6.0
6.0
9.4
Retired
18.9
18.9
11.3
Student
2.7
2.7
3.1
Unpaid position
4.9
4.9
2.9
Other
2.5
2.5
1.3
Do not know
(1,111)
(365)
(746)
N
Monthly personal income (%)
8.7
6.8
9.7
A lot above average
23.7
20.3
25.3
Slightly above average
17.3
14.5
18.6
Similar to the average
12.2
10.1
13.1
Slightly below average
19.3
23.6
17.2
A lot below average
0.8
1.9
0.3
Do not know
18.1
22.7
15.8
Prefer not to respond
(1,111)
(365)
(746)
N
Age t(1,208) = 4.349, p = .001
38.3
35.46
39.63
Mean age
(15.79)
(14.97)
(16.00)
SD
(1,210)
(397)
(813)
N
Satisfaction with life t(1,208) = 2.790, p = .005
7.52
7.32
7.62
Mean satisfaction with life
1.76
(1.96)
(1.65)
SD
(1,210)
(397)
(813)
N
Note. Statistics were significant at p < 0.05 for the cross-tabulations and t tests presented.
International Journal of Communication 9(2015) Early Birds and Night Owls 145
Factors Explaining Differences in Media Use
All five differentiating background characteristics, as well as morning-night orientation, were used
as independent variables in a series of regressions. The dependent variables were the use of media the
day before the survey that were found to be significantly different for the two groups. Six regressions
were conducted: five logistic regressions, with the dependent variable as dummy (use/nonuse), and one
linear regression, in which the time spent reading online newspapers was the dependent variable. A
summary of the analyses is provided in Table 6.
Some of the differentiating background characteristics, especially age and employment status, were
indeed significantly associated with the various media uses, but after controlling for these characteristics,
morning-night orientation was still significantly associated with media use. Being a night person was
negatively associated with watching television on a television set (B = .555, p = .003), listening to the
radio on a radio receiver (B = .319, p = .044), reading print newspapers (B = .388, p = .012), and time
spent reading online newspapers ( = .069, p = .019); it was positively associated with using SNSs (B =
.351, p = .001) and posting to chat sites, blogs, and so on (B = .489, p = .010).
Table 6. Summary of Regression Analyses That Examined the Associations Between
Morningness and Media Use After Controlling for Different Sociodemographics.
TV use
(y/n)
Radio use
(y/n)
Print
newspapers
(y/n)
Online
newspapers
(Time)
SNS use
(y/n)
Posting
entries
(y/n)
Predictor
B
B
B
B
B
Day-night
orientation
.555**
.319*
.388*
.069*
.351**
.489*
Family status
.431
.138
.157
.034
.530**
.015
Employment
status
882***
.508**
.073
.017
.159
.045
Income
.218
.388
.013
.034
.255
.166
Age
050***
.041***
.036***
.054
.024***
.001
Life satisfaction
.069
.024
.030
.036
.012
.037
Constant
.075
1.590
1.336
2.040
1.479
2
103.76
108.75
80.37
52.08
8.86
df
6
6
6
6
6
Note. Dependent variables were media usages that were found to be significantly different for morning
and night persons (Tables 2 and 3). Independent variables were sociodemographics that were found to be
significantly different for morning and night persons (Table 5). The regression for time spent reading
online newspapers was linear regression (R
2
= .010, F = 2.064). All other regressions were logistic
regressions with the dependent variable coded as 1 = reported using the medium in the previous day or 0
= reported nonuse. Other dummy codes were day-night orientation: 1 = night, 0 = morning; family
status: 1 = married with children, 0 = other; employment status: 1 = full time, 0 = other; income: 1 =
higher than average, 0 = similar to average or below. N = 901 because only people who reported their
income were included in the analyses.
***
p < 0.001.
**
p < 0.01.
*
p < 0.05.
146 Galit Nimrod International Journal of Communication 9(2015)
Discussion
Whereas early communication theories assumed that media consumption is an outcome of
conscious selection (Ouellette & Wood, 1998; Palmgreen, Wenner, & Rosengren, 1985), a growing body of
knowledge suggests that many media behaviors are automatic and nonconscious. Such so-called media
habits are often activated by internal (e.g., moods, goals, related thoughts) and external (e.g., time,
location, partners, preceding events) cues, acting alone or together with conscious intentions framed by
expected outcomes to determine behavior (LaRose, 2010). Morningness-eveningness may act as both
internal and external cue affecting media habits, because it is an individual difference that is time-
sensitive. Hence, understanding its association with media use may shed some light on how media habits
are formed and provide potential explanations for their roles.
The method applied in the present study overcame many of the drawbacks characterizing the few
previous studies examining morningness-eveningness with regard to media use (Fossum et al., 2014).
Because this study assessed individuals at all ages rather than just teenagers or students, examined a
wide range of media instead of only one or two, and measured duration rather than just frequency of
media use, it provided a much broader scope and greater accuracy than did previous studies.
Furthermore, whereas previous studies chiefly explored behavior (media uses), the current study applied
the multidimensionality of social cognitive theory (Bandura, 2001) and related to the person (preferences)
and the environment (places of use) as well, enabling a deeper understanding of the various aspects
associated with media use among individuals with different morning-evening orientation.
Overall, the findings displayed considerable differences between self-defined morning and night
persons with regard to media preferences, uses, and places of use. Morning persons demonstrated
preference for traditional media (e.g., telephone) in various hypothetical situations and reported more use
of traditional mass media (television, radio, and newspapers) the day before they took the survey. They
also tended to use these media in a traditional manner (e.g., watching TV on a television set) rather than
opting for their online equivalents, and they were more inclined to use the various media in traditional
places, primarily at home. Night persons reported a significantly higher preference for new media (e.g.,
SNSs), which was reflected in their reported media use the day before the survey as well as in their
greater tendency to use the Internet in various out-of-home locations.
Findings indicated high congruence among each group’s preferences, uses, and places of media
use. Furthermore, these preferences largely confirmed the results of previous research, demonstrating
that night owls are more intensive users of new media (Kauderer & Randler, 2013; Shochat et al., 2010;
Urbán et al., 2011; Vollmer et al., 2012). The study also referred to use of traditional media, however,
and found only tiny differences in overall duration of use, suggesting that the night persons are not more
intense users of media in general. They simply prefer media that are different from those commonly used
by the morning persons.
This finding somewhat dispels the myth that eveningness is associated with problematic media use,
which was supported by studies on young audiences’ use of the Internet (e.g., Lin & Gau, 2013; Randler
et al., 2013). Because teenagers and students are typically inclined toward eveningness and have
International Journal of Communication 9(2015) Early Birds and Night Owls 147
irregular daily schedules (Kim et al., 2002; Roenneberg et al., 2004), and because they represent a new
media generation, one that was born into the cybernetic revolution (cf. Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr,
2010), they exhibit both high levels of eveningness and high frequency of problematic new media use.
Causal relations between these variables, however, are yet to be investigated (Fossum et al., 2014).
The literature regarding the association between morningness-eveningness and psychological
traits may explain some of the findings of the present study. Night persons were more likely to have
higher intelligence scores (Roberts & Kyllonen, 1999) and novelty-seeking personalities (Caci et al., 2004;
Chotai, 2005), possibly explaining their preference for new technologies and more intense use thereof.
Furthermore, the correlation of eveningness with extroversion (Neubauer, 1992; Wilson, 1990) and with
preference for individual values and self-enhancement (Vollmer & Randler, 2012) may illuminate owls’
preference for many-to-many media that enable self-expression (SNSs, chat sites, blogs, etc.) over the
traditional one-to-many media. The morning persons’ greater conscientiousness and acceptance of social
values (Randler, 2008c; Vollmer & Randler, 2012) hints at their higher use of traditional media in general
and of newspapers (both electronic and print) in particular.
Wittmann and colleagues (2006) argued that, because night persons suffer from continuous
conflict between biological and societal clocks, they should be regarded as “socially jet-lagged.” The
findings of the current study suggest that they are also “technologically jet-lagged.” Although they are
continuously behind the normative time according to societal clocks, they tend to be ahead of others in
terms of technological clocks. The constraints of early work and study schedules lead the night persons to
accumulate an increasing sleep debt and to require efficient time management. The use of advanced
technologies may promote effective use of time because they can accelerate processes such as
information search and social interaction. Thus, it is possible that the night persons’ technological jet lag
and media habits represent a coping strategy that facilitates their adjustment to societal clocks.
This new theoretical proposition should be explored further in future research, but the current
study already exhibits several theoretical and methodological implications. First, by relating to a wide
range of media, it demonstrates a replacement pattern among night persons. Results showed that night
persons do not use media more intensively than morning persons, but rather use more new media and
less traditional mass media. According to the social cognitive theory (Bandura, 2001), human behavior is
self-regulated, and self-regulation mechanisms are considered key factor in shaping media habits (LaRose,
2010). Therefore, the media replacement patterns among the owls may be considered a self-regulation
process, and morningness-eveningness should be regarded as an individual difference affecting media
habits.
Second, the findings suggest that morning-night orientation is a significant predictor of media
use. Hence, audience researchers may benefit from including this ordinarily neglected element in their
studies. Moreover, because night persons appear to be ahead of others in terms of advanced technology
adoption, examining their media use may help predict the relevant trends. Finally, although the study
used self-definition rather than one of the existing long morningness-eveningness scales (Adan et al.,
2012; Thun et al., 2012), differences between morning and night persons did resemble those indicated in
previous research, including background characteristics such as age (Klei et al., 2005; Paine et al., 2006)
148 Galit Nimrod International Journal of Communication 9(2015)
and work status (Mecacci & Zani, 1983; Park et al., 1997), life satisfaction (Randler, 2008a), and patterns
of media use such as Internet use in the bedroom (Fossum et al., 2014). This congruence suggests that in
cases of restricted questionnaires, the one-item measure may well serve as a sound indicator of
morningness-eveningness.
Limitations and Future Research
Notwithstanding the strengths of this study, it also has several limitations that should be
acknowledged. First, this study examined self-defined morningness rather than testing individual
differences based on existing scales (Adan et al., 2012; Thun et al., 2012). This one-item self-assessment
measure is inevitably less reliable than the multi-items tests (Di Milia, Adan, Natale, & Randler, 2013),
and thus it is possible that using it concealed some significant insights. Moreover, because morningness-
eveningness was perceived as a polar rather than continuous pair of descriptors (Natale & Cicogna, 2002),
only differences were examined and not associations. Second, there is an inherent bias in this sample
toward Internet users and people willing to take part in panel surveys. Furthermore, all respondents live in
the same country; consequently, environmental and/or social factors were not taken into account. Third,
because media use was measured with memory-based tools, all behavioral data should be regarded as
reported rather than actual.
Accordingly, future research should investigate the effects of morningness-eveningness on media
use by applying more sensitive scales (e.g., morningness-eveningness scales and media diaries), including
additional variables (e.g., media genre preferences), and examining more audiences (e.g., people who do
not use the Internet and those from various cultural contexts and geographical areas). Because night
persons appear to be ahead of others in terms of technology adoption, further studies should also apply
longitudinal methods to explore trends in the technological gap between morning and night persons.
Additional attention should be given to the roles morningness plays in forming and activating media habits
and its interrelatedness with other internal and external cues. Finally, both qualitative and quantitative
methods should be applied to determine whether night persons’ technological jet lag represents a coping
strategy that promotes adjustment to societal clocks.
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The accurate measurement of circadian typology (CT) is critical because the construct has implications for a number of health disorders. In this review, we focus on the evidence to support the reliability and validity of the more commonly used CT scales: the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ), reduced Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (rMEQ), the Composite Scale of Morningness (CSM), and the Preferences Scale (PS). In addition, we also consider the Munich ChronoType Questionnaire (MCTQ). In terms of reliability, the MEQ, CSM, and PS consistently report high levels of reliability (>0.80), whereas the reliability of the rMEQ is satisfactory. The stability of these scales is sound at follow-up periods up to 13 mos. The MCTQ is not a scale; therefore, its reliability cannot be assessed. Although it is possible to determine the stability of the MCTQ, these data are yet to be reported. Validity must be given equal weight in assessing the measurement properties of CT instruments. Most commonly reported is convergent and construct validity. The MEQ, rMEQ, and CSM are highly correlated and this is to be expected, given that these scales share common items. The level of agreement between the MCTQ and the MEQ is satisfactory, but the correlation between these two constructs decreases in line with the number of "corrections" applied to the MCTQ. The interesting question is whether CT is best represented by a psychological preference for behavior or by using a biomarker such as sleep midpoint. Good-quality subjective and objective data suggest adequate construct validity for each of the CT instruments, but a major limitation of this literature is studies that assess the predictive validity of these instruments. We make a number of recommendations with the aim of advancing science. Future studies need to (1) focus on collecting data from representative samples that consider a number of environmental factors; (2) employ longitudinal designs to allow the predictive validity of CT measures to be assessed and preferably make use of objective data; (3) employ contemporary statistical approaches, including structural equation modeling and item-response models; and (4) provide better information concerning sample selection and a rationale for choosing cutoff points.