Description: Think for a moment about how good you are at editing your own and other peoples’ writing. To put a finer point on your self-assessment, place yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 in editing skill with 10 being razor sharp and missing little or nothing and 1 being sloppy and inconsistent. Now, be honest, in rating your editorial skills did the phrase “it depends” even cross your mind and if it did was it tied to anything more than a version of “how much the task matters”? Did the idea that your editorial skill might vary depending on your passing mood (and NOT your mood about the editorial task but your general mood)? How might your general mood be related to your editing skill? Think about it and then read the article linked below to see what recent research suggests might be going on. Oh, and pay attention to how the research study discussed was designed to see if that has any influence on your evaluation of the work.
Source: How your mood affects the way you process language, Science News, ScienceDaily.
Date: January 13, 2023
It is interesting that being in a negative mood seems to improve our attention to detail in tasks like proof reading. I also hope you took close note of the discussion of the research design elements as they are particularly important parts of how we decide if the study “properly” addressed its focal questions. For example, they used the movie Sofie’s Choice which was described as a sad movie (no argument there) and then indicated that they viewed the resulting participant mood states as negative. The funny clips (Friends episodes) were reported to have no influence on mood. As such there was no positive mood state condition in the study. Participants served as their own controls by completing both study conditions a week apart in random order. This is a good way to control cross participant differences without using random-assignment. Overall a good design but I am left wondering what the impact of positive moods might be and I am also wondering how it is that negative mood states make us more analytical. Finally, I am wondering if the researchers gave any thought to the possible impact of their findings on the behavior of managers overseeing workers engaging in important analytic tasks. A statement to the effect that their data is not conclusive enough to support adjustments to management practices in such workplace settings might be in order. I am only partly serious about this last point, but researchers do need to be prepared to speak to the limitations of their findings.
Questions for Discussion:
- What sorts of tasks besides proofreading require analytic thinking and focus?
- Did the research design and participant tasks make sense to you in light of what the researchers wanted to investigate? How might you change the tasks or the design to broaden their potential findings?
- As it was NOT assessed in the described study what do YOU think the effect of a positive mood might be on proofreading tasks or on other work tasks and how would you research this?
References (Read Further):
Lai, V. T., Van Berkum, J. J., & Hagoort, P. (2022). Negative affect increases reanalysis on conflicts between discourse context and world knowledge. Frontiers in Communication. Link
Mancini, E., Beglinger, C., Drewe, J., Zanchi, D., Lang, U. E., & Borgwardt, S. (2017). Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine, 34, 26-37. Link
Chepenik, L. G., Cornew, L. A., & Farah, M. J. (2007). The influence of sad mood on cognition. Emotion, 7(4), 802. Link
Forgas, J. P., & Eich, E. (2013). Affective influences on cognition: Mood congruence, mood dependence, and mood effects on processing strategies. In A. F. Healy, R. W. Proctor, & I. B. Weiner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Experimental psychology (pp. 61–82). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Link
Forgas, J. P. (2002). Feeling and doing: Affective influences on interpersonal behavior. Psychological inquiry, 13(1), 1-28. Link
Forgas, J. P., Laham, S. M., & Vargas, P. T. (2005). Mood effects on eyewitness memory: Affective influences on susceptibility to misinformation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41(6), 574-588. Link
Beal, D. J., Weiss, H. M., Barros, E., & MacDermid, S. M. (2005). An episodic process model of affective influences on performance. Journal of Applied psychology, 90(6), 1054. Link
Forgas, J. P. (1998). On feeling good and getting your way: mood effects on negotiator cognition and bargaining strategies. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(3), 565. Link