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PsyCh Journal (2021)

DOI: 10.1002/pchj.477

Peter Przemyslaw Ujma1,2, Emil Ole William Kirkegaard3

1Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
2National Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Budapest, Hungary
3Ulster Institute for Social Research, Ulster, UK


Chronotype and cognitive ability are two human phenotypes with an uneven geographic distribution due to both selective migration and causal environmental effects. In our study, we aimed to examine the relationship between geographic variables, cognitive ability and chronotype. We used a large anonymized sample (n = 25,700, mostly from the USA, UK, Canada and Australia) of dating site users to estimate chronotype and cognitive ability from questionnaire responses using item response theory. We matched each user to geographic coordinates and city size using the reported locations and geographic databases. In line with previous research we found that male sex, younger age, residence in a more populous locale, higher cognitive ability and more westward position within the same time zone were associated with later chronotype. Male sex, younger age, residence in a more populous locale, later chronotype and higher latitude were associated with higher cognitive ability, but the effect of population on chronotype and latitude on cognitive ability was only present in the USA. The relationship between age and chronotype was stronger in males, and the relationship between chronotype and cognitive ability was stronger in males and in older participants. Population density had an independent association with cognitive ability, but not chronotype. Our results confirm the uneven geographic distribution of chronotype and cognitive ability. These findings generalize across countries, but they are moderated by age and sex, suggesting both biological and cultural effects.


chronotype; circadian preference; g factor; geography; intelligence; IQ




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