Bad moods can be good for the brain, says researchers

In a bad mood? It might not be as bad as you think, especially if you're in need of some extra brain power.

Happiness definitely keeps us healthier, but research has shown that being in a mildly-bad mood can not only help with our recall of events, but can also make us more attentive of our surroundings and give us better judgment about people and about situations. It even found that, for presenting our case in an argument (at least a written one), a bad mood can help us communicate more effectively. According to Reuters, Joseph Forgas, the University of New South Wales psychology professor who authored the study, wrote: "Positive mood is not universally desirable: people in negative mood are less prone to judgmental errors, are more resistant to eyewitness distortions and are better at producing high-quality, effective persuasive messages."

A recent entry on said that bad moods work best for brainstorming too, and a similar post on talked about using anger to get past creative blocks. Both refer to a 2012 study that showed supporting evidence for the 'affective shift hypothesis' — where starting out in a bad mood, and then slowly changing attitude towards a good mood, allowed people to maximize their creativity.

Why does this work?

According to Huffington Post, Forgas wrote to them in an email, saying: "Mood states have an important evolutionary signaling function, preparing the organism to respond appropriately to various environmental conditions. In a sense, good moods signal that the situation is safe, familiar and that existing responses are appropriate. Negative mood in turn signals that the situation is new, challenging and the greater attention to new information is required to produce an effective response."

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Now, the key here is that it's a mildly-bad mood that they're saying isn't such a bad thing. Actually suffering from depression or having problems with anger management, are entirely different. There's the stereotype of the depressed artist using their angst to create profound works, but these are serious issues that shouldn't be 'played' for effect, as they do far more harm than good.

Still, don't ever go looking to be in a bad mood, but if you happen to be in one, try putting it to good use.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

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