New research found that being in a bad mood can help some people's executive functioning, such as their ability to focus attention, manage time and prioritize tasks. The same study found that a good mood has a negative effect on it in some cases.
Tara McAuley, a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo, and Martyn S. Gabel, a PhD candidate, explored whether our emotional reactivity shaped how mood influences the kinds of thinking skills we need to navigate the demands and stresses of day-to-day life. Emotional reactivity refers to the sensitivity, intensity and duration of our emotional responses associated with our mood.
"Our results show that there are some people for whom a bad mood may actually hone the kind of thinking skills that are important for everyday life," said McAuley.
The high-reactive individuals -- people who have rapid, intense, and enduring emotional responses -- performed better on executive function tasks when experiencing a bad mood. Low-reactive individuals showed the opposite effect, with bad mood associated with worse executive functioning.
This pattern of results supports the view that a bad mood may help with some executive skills -- but only for people who are more emotionally reactive.......MORE