Negative thinking

By • Published: January 12th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

No author has ever written a book touting the power of negative thinking.

Don’t you think it’s about time?

Give us your tired, your grumpy, your masses yearning to gripe freely.

Ponder for a moment the idea that bad moods have silver linings.

A team of Australian scientists has found that being sad and negative boosts memory, sharpens judgment and makes people less likely to fall for tall tales.

Sure, sure. Positive moods have been linked with creativity, flexibility and cooperation.

But the study from the University of New South Wales showed that people in positive mental states were likely to believe anything halfway reasonable.

If you could get a few dark clouds floating through their heads, people changed their tunes, becoming more careful and critical thinkers.

The scientists started by inducing happy or sad moods in the volunteers by making them recall positive or negative events or showing them mood-appropriate movies.

In one of the experiments, participants were asked to judge the truth of urban myths and rumors. People in a negative mood were less likely to believe these statements.

Likewise, people in a bad mood were found less likely to make snap decisions based on racial or religious prejudices, and they were less likely to make mistakes when asked to recall an event that they witnessed.

Could it be that at the heart of darkness dwells a need for information-processing strategies better suited for demanding situations?

If you’re in a negative mood right now, you probably have your doubts.

But for the happy-go-lucky out there, it sure seems reasonable, doesn’t it?