Pros of being sad
Happy moods promote creativity and flexibility — but also gullability. Sad moods make you more critical, improve your ability to judge and remember.
From Smart Planet, Nov 5, 2009:
By Andrew Nusca
Bad moods can be good for you, according to a new study.
A recent Australian study has found that being sad has positive side effects, including making people less gullible, improving the ability to judge others and boosting memory.
Authored by University of New South Wales psychology professor Joseph Forgas, the study revealed that than happy people were more likely to believe anything they were told, while people in negative moods were more critical of, and paid more attention to, their surroundings.
“Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, cooperation, and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking paying greater attention to the external world,” Forgas wrote.
According to the results, sadness helps the human brain process information better in demanding situations.
Researchers conducted several experiments by first inducing participants’ moods to be happy or sad by having them watch movies.
In one experiment, participants were asked to judge the truth of rumors. People in a negative mood were found to be less likely to believe such statements, and were less likely to make knee-jerk decisions based on racial or religious prejudices.
They were also less likely to make mistakes when asked to recall an event that they witnessed, and were better at making a case through written argument.
A “mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style,” Forgas wrote.
The findings have implications in the workplace, particularly in those that use persuasive communication (e.g. lawyers) frequently.
The study’s implications on Darwinism are also evident: your mood helps you adapt to situations that ultimately promotes your survival.
The study was published in the November/December edition of the Australasian Science journal.
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