Original article:

Night owl women are similar to men in their relationship orientation, risk-taking propensities, and cortisol levels: Implications for the adaptive significance and evolution of eveningness

Evolutionary Psychology 12(1): 130-147 Dario Maestripieri, Department of Comparative Human Development, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA, dario@uchicago.edu


Individual differences in morningness/eveningness are relatively stable over time and, in part, genetically based. The night-owl pattern is more prevalent in men than in women, particularly after puberty and before women reach menopause. It has been suggested that eveningness evolved relatively recently in human evolutionary history and that this trait may be advantageous to individuals pursuing short-term mating strategies. Consistent with this hypothesis, eveningness is associated with extraversion, novelty-seeking, and in males, with a higher number of sexual partners. In this study, I investigated whether eveningness is associated with short-term relationship orientation, higher risk-taking, and higher testosterone or cortisol. Both female and male night-owls were more likely to be single than in long-term relationships than early morning individuals. Eveningness was associated with higher risk-taking in women but not in men; this association was not testosterone-dependent but mediated by cortisol. Female night-owls had average cortisol profiles and risk-taking tendencies more similar to those of males than to those of early-morning females. Taken together, these findings provide some support to the hypothesis that eveningness is associated with psychological and behavioral traits that are instrumental in short-term mating strategies, with the evidence being stronger for women than for men.


sleep patterns, short-term mating strategies, risk-taking, gender, cortisol, testosterone

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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