Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2019.0020

We examine the influence of chronobiological processes on creativity, specifically the influence of a person’s chronotype. Chronotype refers to the setting of a person’s biological clock that gives rise to a distinctive pattern of sleep habits and preferred diurnal activity. We propose a synchrony effect and predict that people are creative when the external clock is aligned with their internal, biological clock. According to our model, positive mood and creative self-efficacy act as affective and cognitive mechanisms of this synchrony effect. We present three studies that test our theorizing: a quasi-experimental field study with 260 employees, a day-reconstruction study with 238 employees, and a one-day experience sampling study with 319 employees. Across the studies, we find that chronotype moderates the effect of time of day on creativity. Overall, late chronotypes were more creative in the late afternoon and early chronotypes tended to be more creative in the morning. The alignment between chronotype and time of day also gave rise to positive mood and creative self-efficacy; however, the studies provide only partial support for the hypothesis that positive mood acts as a mediating mechanism. We discuss the implications of these findings against the background of an embodied cognition perspective on creativity.

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