What early birds and night owls can learn from the Backstreet Boys

What early birds and night owls can learn from the Backstreet Boys

Do you know that time of the day when you just can’t focus on your work because you’re so easily distracted? You might be able to relate to Jake here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlBYdiXdUa8

Not letting yourself get distracted is not only though for Jake. Currently, there is a lot of research on improving the reliability of eyewitness identification decisions. Imagine we could easily decrease false identifications and enhance accuracy simply by adjusting the time of the line-up with the eyewitnesses’ peak performance period. But how is that supposed to work? 

Each of us has their own optimal time of day, where we are focused, effective, and most accurate when performing demanding cognitive tasks. This is due to our unique body clock, or else our “chronotype”, which is  one’s individual preference for a particular time of the day. People fit broadly in two categories. You might know some ‘early birds’, that go to bed early and kick off the day with a workout at 6am. The night owls, however, prefer to sleep in late and begin to work on their bachelor thesis just before dinner. 

Prior research indicates that task performance increases significantly, when the testing time is matched to the persons’ optimal time of day. In our study, we focused on the effect a (mis-)match of testing time and chronotype would have on face recognition skills. Both our early birds and night owls performed a face recognition task once in the morning and in the evening to check for performance differences. Additionally, we asked for confidence ratings and monitored response time; both factors are good postdictors for recognition accuracy.

If you by now are as curious as we are about our results, stay tuned. We might have found a groundbreaking way to improve eyewitnesses decision making through a minor procedural adjustment!

Research Group 1

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