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Circadian rhythms are known to be important drivers of human activity and the recent availability of electronic records of human behaviour has provided fine-grained data of temporal patterns of activity on a large scale. Further, questionnaire studies have identified important individual differences in circadian rhythms, with people broadly categorised into morning-like or evening-like individuals. However, little is known about the social aspects of these circadian rhythms, or how they vary across individuals. In this study we use a unique 18-month dataset that combines mobile phone calls and questionnaire data to examine individual differences in the daily rhythms of mobile phone activity. We demonstrate clear individual differences in daily patterns of phone calls, and show that these individual differences are persistent despite a high degree of turnover in the individuals' social networks. Further, women's calls were longer than men's calls, especially during the evening and at night, and these calls were typically focused on a small number of emotionally intense relationships. These results demonstrate that individual differences in circadian rhythms are not just related to broad patterns of morningness and eveningness, but have a strong social component, in directing phone calls to specific individuals at specific times of day.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Cell Phones, Circadian Rhythm, Female, Friends, Humans, Individuality, Male, Sociological Factors, Verbal Behavior