A study by PBS professor Ed Hirt, graduate student Julie Eyink and others in Hirt’s lab shows that people are more likely to undermine their performance at stressful tasks when according to their circadian rhythm, they’re at their peak time of day.
The seemingly counterintuitive results, reported in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, are based on an investigation into the connection between people’s circadian rhythm and the risk of “self-handicapping,” or self-sabotage. But rather than trying to protect against possible failure at “off-peak” times, the study found, people actually engage in this behavior more at their peak times.
In other words, “morning people,” who reported greater alertness at sunrise, self-handicapped more in the morning. “Night owls,” who reported greater alertness at sunset, self-handicapped more in the evening.