Sub-constructs of morning–evening preference might be differentially related to polymorphisms in circadian clock genes. We previously reported significant association between a single nucleotide polymorphism in PER3 (rs2640909) and Morning but not Evening Lateness scale of the Sleep–Wake Pattern Assessment Questionnaire. To further explore such a scale-specific relationship, seven single nucleotide polymorphisms in five circadian clock genes were studied using exploratory and confirmatory samples (in total, n = 698). The association of rs2640909 with Morning Lateness scale was not replicated in the confirmatory sample but remained significant in the merged sample. Moreover, we found and confirmed an association of this scale with rs1159814 in RORα. The results provided further evidence for differential relationship of polymorphisms in circadian clock genes with morning and evening components of morning–evening preference. We also suggested possibility to take into account the pattern of geographic variation in allele frequency for prioritization of circadian clock polymorphisms in candidate gene studies. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.