Don’t worry, be grumpy

November 18, 2014 by
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

I-Had-Fun-Once-It-Was-AwfulA recent study has highlighted some of the positive things that can happen when you’re in a negative mood.

This research showed how being in a bad mood can be good for the brain. We are not talking about clinical depression, but rather, those temporary feelings of grumpiness we commonly call a “bad mood”.

Among other things, psychologist Joseph Forgas reports the following in this study:

  • A bad mood may mean you make better judgment calls, and aren’t as gullible. People who are in good spirits are more susceptible to biases and not as adept at spotting lies and tricks.
  • A bad mood may actually help you remember things better. Studies have shown that people in good moods are more easily fooled by misleading questions, and may not remember as many details.
  • A bad mood may help you persevere at a challenging task. People who are in a bad mood have been found to be more motivated.

He also found that being in a bad mood may help you make more persuasive arguments, and can lessen your urge to stereotype people or act on stereotypes.

This is not to say that you should look for ways to be cranky, because while these effects may be true, many studies have found that happiness is beneficial for health. But it does mean that if you find yourself feeling grumpy, there might be a silver lining to it all. Whether that changes your mood is up to you!


Forgas, J. P. Don’t worry, be sad! On the cognitive, motivational, and interpersonal benefits of negative mood. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2013 22(3): 225-232.

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