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Study: A Bad Mood Is Better for Your Career

According to a Canadian study, those who are perpetually in a bad mood actually perform better. Guess I won’t work on my problems, then.


It’s roughly that time of day where things are very bad. The morning has set in and we’re halfway between starting work and lunchtime. It’s fair to say that the negative vibes you’re feeling are like chills, in that they’re multiplying.

It’s fair to say that the workplace “bad mood” is an institution. In fact, being a caustic tool goes all the way to the top, as LBJ famously grumbled his way through Southeast Asia and a failed Presidency. However, we can’t all order the Gulf of Tonkin, but we can all take the lessons, as science believes that being in a bad mood equals greater productivity.

A study from the University of Waterloo published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, believes that being cranky boosts something called “executive function.” To prove it, ninety-six university students took part in the study, completing a series of tests. The tests might have been varied, but most of the participants were in their late teens or early 20s.

Bloody kids.

Nevertheless, the study found that “highly reactive” individuals did better on the tasks while being in a bad mood. The study classifies these highly reactive individuals as “those who have rapid, intense, and enduring emotional responses.” Which sounds slightly better than “that moody fuckstick over there.”

But why? Well, negative moods by definition promote a rather direct thinking style, not dissimilar to problem-solving. I’m going to get A back for doing B by doing C. Even doing something as questionable as putting prawns behind your ex-partner’s hubcaps has a grounding in an analytical thought. One must buy the prawns, one must locate the car, one must make sure the owner of the car is not there, etc.

There’s another aspect to it. A psychology professor at the University of Waterloo, Tara McAuley, believes that these highly reactive people are used to experiencing bad moods and therefore aren’t thrown off by them. It’s just another needless trial in an unhappy life that they’re forced to death with. Yeah, put it in the pile. We’ll handle it.

The opposite is, of course, true for the opposite. For those positive people, the smallest trial can seem insurmountable, as crisis is a new experience for them. Ostensibly, the lesson is: if you want to get more done, enjoy it less. Snap at everyone, and ruin your mental health and friendships alike, as you become a beast of raised pulse, sweated pits, one who can easily be identified by a familial roar of, “WHAT?! I’M BUSY!”


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