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A bad mood may help your brain when it comes to everyday tasks: UW study

They found a bad mood can help some people’s executive functioning, such as their ability to focus attention, manage time and prioritize tasks
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University of Waterloo
Photo from The University of Waterloo.

A new study out of the University of Waterloo indicates being in a funk can help your brain with everyday tasks.

Tara McAuley, a UW psychology professor, and Martyn S. Gabel, a PhD candidate, did the research.

They looked at whether our emotional reactivity shaped how mood influences the kinds of thinking skills we need to navigate the demands and stresses of everyday life.

Emotional reactivity is defined as the sensitivity, intensity and duration of our emotional responses associated with our mood.

McAuley and Gabel found a bad mood can help some people’s executive functioning, such as their ability to focus attention, manage time and prioritize tasks.

"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.

"People shouldn’t interpret the results as saying it’s fine to fly off the handle or overreact, or to be grouchy," she added.

"We know that emotional reactivity differs from person to person starting at a very early age and that these individual differences have implications for mental health later in development."

Their research is published in the journal, Personality & Individual Differences



Blair Adams

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