Our decisions tend to get quicker and less accurate as the day wears on, suggests a new study.
The findings based on decisions taken by chess players hold true irrespective of whether someone is in the habit of waking up early in the morning or later in the day.
“During the morning, players adopt a prevention focus policy (slower and more accurate decisions) which is later modified to a promotion focus (faster but less accurate decisions), without daily changes in performance,” the study said.
Diego Golombek from the National University of Quilmes in Argentina and colleagues said that human behaviour and physiology exhibit fluctuations in a single day.
The researchers examined the quality of moves in more than one million games of chess in an online database. They charted the decisions of 99 prolific players by gauging the time they took for each move and its usefulness in leading to a victory, Science magazine reported.
Understanding whether decision-making in real-life situations depends on the relation between time of the day and an individual’s diurnal preferences has both practical and theoretical implications.
However, answering this question has remained elusive because of the difficulty of measuring precisely the quality of a decision in real-life scenarios.
The researchers chose chess players for the study, as in a chess game, every player has to make around 40 decisions using a finite time budget and both the time and quality of each decision can be accurately determined.
The researchers were not surprised to find that early risers preferred to play more games in the morning, whereas night owls, or those who generally stay up late at night, were active at dusk and beyond.
But regardless of their diurnal preferences, the players took longer but better decisions in their early games. Their decisions became quicker and less effective by evening, said the study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Cognition.
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