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Archive for December 9th, 2007

On average, happier people are more successful, do better in social relationships, and like themselves and other people more. They are also usually more creative and better able to cope with difficult situations.

However, there may be one area where unhappy people may have a slight edge — judgment and decision making.

It’s been called the “depressive realism” effect. Research suggests depressed people (at least in laboratory settings) judge their control over events more accurately than non-depressed people.

In research studying this effect, happier people have applied successful shortcuts they’ve learned in the past, only to arrive at the wrong answer. Furthermore, the research suggests people in a positive mood tend to use stereotypes more, to be less logical and to be more biased in their judgments.

Real-life, complex settings still probably favor the happier person over the unhappy person in the long run, but it is an intriguing thought — just because you’re happy doesn’t mean you will necessarily make the right decision or move. In fact, your positive mood may cloud your judgment, causing you to believe in a potential outcome that may be unrealistic or has serious “holes” in it. In other words, our positivism could blind us to realities.

Perhaps it’s okay at times to be skeptical, negative or be in a bad mood. It may just prevent us from making a big mistake.

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