Nobody likes a person, especially a boss, who is permanently grumpy, but an Australian researcher has found that a little grumpiness now and then can actually benefit people.
Joe Forgas, a psychology professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, conducted research that suggests people who are in a bad or negative mood are better at decision making and less gullible.
In order to put volunteers into either a good or bad mood, Forgas showed them different films and asked them to dwell on positive or negative events in their lives. The participants were then asked to engage in different tasks, including determining whether urban stories were truths or myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.
Forgas found that people who were in a bad mood performed better than their good mood counterparts, making fewer errors and being better communicators.
“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 says his research looked at mild and temporary negative moods only, “the kind of feeling states people may experience after watching 10 minutes of a sad movie, or learning that they did less well than they hoped for on a test, or thinking about a sad episode in the past.”
“More intense or enduring negative moods may well have more debilitating effects, so I do not think our findings will apply to people who experience permanent negative affect,” he added.
Regarding communications, Forgas found that people who were in a negative mood were better able to state their cases in written arguments than their more cheerful counterparts.
Earlier research by Forgas found that people have sharper memories when tested on dreary days as opposed to sunny ones.