In Praise of Bad Moods: 8 Ways a Little Sadness Can Be a Good Thing
Americans are obsessed with happiness. We’re all about looking for it, finding it, talking about it, and examining it. I’m guilty myself. Whenever I hear claims that getting married makes you happier, I am all over them.
So when I found an alert in my inbox about a just published article reviewing the benefits of being in a bad mood, I had to read it and pass along what I learned. The author, leading mood researcher Joseph Forgas, is not defending intense and sustained bad feelings, just the mild, temporary unpleasant feelings that we all describe as being in a bad mood.
Here are 8 ways a bit of a bad mood can be a good thing:
- People in bad moods have better memories. In one study, for example, they remembered more details about the inside of a shop than did people in good moods. People in bad moods are also less likely to get tricked by misleading questions.
- People in bad moods are more accurate in their judgments. Social scientists have had a field day documenting judgmental biases; now mood researchers are showing that people in bad moods are less susceptible to those biases than people in good moods.
- People in bad moods are less gullible. For example, they are less likely to believe urban myths and they are also better at detecting deception.
- People in bad moods are less likely to stereotype other people, and they are less likely to act on negative stereotypical judgments.
- There are motivational benefits to bad moods. For example, people in bad moods persevere longer at difficult tasks.
- A bad mood can have its interpersonal advantages (though it is not always beneficial). For example, people in bad moods ask for things in more polite ways.
- People in bad moods are more fair and more just. Allowed to allocate a resource however they want, for example, they are more likely than people in a good mood to distribute the resource in a fair way rather than hogging it for themselves.
- People in bad moods are more persuasive – they come up with better arguments.
Reference: Forgas, J. P. (2013). Don’t worry, be sad! On the cognitive, motivational, and interpersonal benefits of negative mood. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 225-232.
Woman in bad mood image available from Shutterstock.
DePaulo, B. (2013). In Praise of Bad Moods: 8 Ways a Little Sadness Can Be a Good Thing. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 31, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/single-at-heart/2013/06/in-praise-of-bad-moods-8-ways-a-little-sadness-can-be-a-good-thing/