On ‘Feeling Grumpy Is “Good for You”‘

BBC Staff (November 5th, 2009). “Feeling Grumpy Is «Good for You»” Retrieved 26th June, 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8339647.stm


Being grumpy can enable us to access an entirely different range of skills apparently. According to Professor Joe Forgas, an Australian researcher at the University of New South Wales, «Negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world». He conducted a series of experiments with a random group of people, asking them to watch a random collection of movies while simultaneously imagining an instance in their life that made them happy or sad, hence affecting their mood. He then ran a series of tests on the subjects, ranging from simple observational skills to judging the truth of myths and urban legends to see what effect the mood would have on their performance. The results supported Forgas’s theory:- those in a bad mood were able to communicate better and made fewer mistakes than those in a good mood. Test results also showed that sad people were better able to state their cases through written arguments, supporting the Professor’s theory that «whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world.»

Forgas’s older research has shown that weather also affects out memory: the rain helps us to remember things, and the sun makes us forgetful.

Conceptual Design: When marketers incorporate mood (or weather?) into their marketing strategies it’s important to associate something that will create the desired mood concerning the product in question.  When it comes to humans there are some things that will elicit a different reaction from more than one individual. To have the ability to affect mood with specific triggers: death, life, rain, sunshine, work, relaxation, whatever it is, would have almost an unnoticed effect on potential consumers. This would allow brands to position themselves through positive or negative stimuli, depending on whether they want the consumer to be feeling more creative and cooperative (“happy”) or more attentive and careful with their answers/analyses and therefore performance overall (“sad”).

Interaction Design: It’s difficult to specify exactly how this would be achieved through marketing. Especially as one individual may react differently to what marketers may have considered a positive or negative stimulus. However, if the consumers could be exposed to these external stimuli—whether it’s music (proven to elicit a powerful emotion reaction), pictures or video, then there is more chance of the use of different cognitive skills, depending on the emotion itself. More research needs to be conducted on the connection between cognitive skill selection/exhibition and emotional stimuli before people start making strangers happy and sad to achieve the desired effect.