I like to be early. I don’t enjoy parties per se, but they are an opportunity to latch on to a very small number of interesting people and hear their thoughts. Or just see what they look like. The chance of succeeding in this endeavor is highest if you are there from the start or nearly so.
Why is early focal? First, the host is early, by definition, and if the host (or hostess) is not interesting the party probably is in trouble. Plus early arrival appears to be focal for most others who prefer small-number interactions.
The more clearly defined is your external public reputation, the less you need fear looking bad. Some people, if they show up early, might be thought as "having nothing better to do." Those who know me, or know of me, probably won’t think this, so I can appear when I please. This post will make that all the easier.
Some people appear late so their arrival causes a scene. The President of the United States is an extreme example of this phenomenon. But I would not value such a scene, even in the unlikely event that I were capable of causing it.
I wonder how a person’s number of Google hits correlates with party time of arrival, of course controlling for total time spent at the party.