Studying for a stressful exam can sometimes put us in a bad mood. The last thing we want to do is put on a happy face, but research suggests cheerfulness may help us perform better. A study published in Psychological Science found that being in a positive mood can improve performance on certain cognitive tasks.
Volunteers were asked to watch a YouTube video that was found to elicit either a positive, neutral, or negative mood; then they completed learning tasks on a computer. Volunteers who were in a positive mood performed better at tasks that involved selecting rules and testing hypotheses than the volunteers who were put in a neutral or negative mood.
Researchers explain that positive moods lead to greater cognitive flexibility and therefore, better performance on these tasks. So the next time you have a big assignment coming up, don’t forget to watch some funny YouTube clips or your favorite episode of Seinfeld before you work on it.