23 August 2004
Surly is as surly does
The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology reports that if you're in a negative mood, you're a more reliable eyewitness than another observer who might be bright and chirpy. Professor Joseph Forgas of the University of New South Wales says:
Our recollection of past events [is] more likely to be contaminated by irrelevant information when we are in a positive mood. A positive mood is likely to trigger less careful thinking strategies.
A further experiment suggests that people in a bad mood demonstrate more effective critical thinking and communication skills. Again, Professor Forgas:
This supports the idea that mood states are evolutionary signals about how to deal with threatening situations. That is, a negative mood state triggers more systematic, more attentive, more vigilant information processing.
By contrast, good moods signal a benign, non-threatening environment where we don't need to be so vigilant.
Remind me to post a copy of this report at work.