Of all the positive emotions, optimism about the future may have the most ironic effects. Like happiness, positive fantasies about the future can be profoundly de-motivating. People feel accomplished, they relax, and they do not invest the necessary effort to actually realise these positive fantasies and daydreams, says Gabriele oettingen from New York University. Graduates who fantasise about success at work end up earning less, for instance. Patients who daydream about getting better make a slower recovery. In numerous studies, oettingen has shown that the more wishful your thinking, the less likely any of it is to come true.
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In prehistoric times, happiness would have left our ancestors vulnerable to predators. In modern life, it prevents us paying due attention to dangers such as binge drinking, overeating and unsafe sex. Happiness functions like a shorthand signal that were safe and its not statement necessary to pay too much attention to the environment, he says. Those in a continuous happy haze may miss important cues. Instead, they may be over-reliant on existing knowledge leaving them prone to serious errors of judgement. Those in a good mood persuasive were less able to think sceptically and were significantly more gullible In one study, forgas and colleagues from the University of New south Wales, australia, put volunteers in either a happy or sad mood by screening films in the laboratory. Then he asked them to judge the truth of urban myths, such as that power lines cause leukaemia or the cia murdered President Kennedy. Those in a good mood were less able to think sceptically and were significantly more gullible. Next Forgas used a first-person shooter game to test if good moods might also lead people to rely on stereotyping. As he predicted, those in a good mood were more likely to aim at targets wearing turbans.
Interestingly, all negative emotions led to more rejections by the second player, which might suggest that these feelings enhance our sense of fairness and the need for everyone to be treated equally. Reversing the set-up reveals this is not just a case of sour grapes, either. The dictator game paperwork has exactly the same rules except this time the second player has no say whatsoever they simply receive whatever the first player decides not to keep. It turns out that happier participants keep more of the prize for themselves, while those in a sad mood are significantly less selfish. People who are feeling slightly down pay better attention to external social norms and expectations, and so they act in a fairer and just way towards others, says Forgas. View image of (Credit: Getty Images) In some situations, happiness carries far more serious risks. Its associated with the cuddle hormone, oxytocin, which a handful of studies have shown reduces our ability to identify threats.
Harsh, but fair Though happiness is often thought of as intrinsically virtuous, the emotion brings no such benefits. In one study, a group of volunteers was made to feel disgusted, sad, angry, fearful, happy, surprised or neutral and invited to play the ultimatum game. In the game, the first player is given some money and asked how theyd like to divide it between themselves and another player. Then the second player gets to decide whether or not to accept. If they agree, the money is split how the first player proposed. If not, neither player gets any money. Happier participants keep more of the prize for themselves, while those in a sad mood are significantly less selfish The ultimatum game is often used as a test analysis of our sense of fairness by showing whether you expect to get a 50-50 share or whether.
Support for this theory comes from the faces we pull when angry. Research suggests they arent arbitrary movements at all, but specifically aimed at increasing our physical strength in the eyes of our opponent. Get it right and aggression can help you advance your interests and increase your status its just an ancient way of bargaining. In fact, scientists are increasingly recognising that grumpiness may be beneficial to the full range of social skills improving language skills, memory and making us more persuasive. View image of (Credit: Getty Images) Negative moods indicate were in a new and challenging situation and call for a more attentive, detailed and observant thinking style, says Joseph Forgas, who has been studying how emotions affect our behaviour for nearly four decades. In line with this, research has also found that feeling slightly down enhances our awareness of social cues. Intriguingly, it also encourages people to act in a more not less fair way towards others.
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The Greek philosopher Aristotle was a firm believer in catharsis (he invented the modern meaning of the word viewing tragic plays, he conjectured, allowed punters to experience anger, sadness and guilt in a controlled environment. By getting it all out in the open, they could purge themselves of these feelings all in one. His philosophy was later adopted by sigmund Freud, who instead championed the cathartic benefits of the therapists couch. Then in 2010 a team of scientists decided to take a look. They surveyed a group of 644 patients with coronary artery disease to determine their levels of anger, suppressed anger and tendency english to experience distress, and followed them for between five and ten years to see what happened next. Over the course of the study, 20 experienced a major cardiac event and 9 percent died.
Initially it looked like both anger and suppressed anger increased the likelihood of having a heart attack. But after controlling for other factors, the researchers realised anger had no impact while suppressing it increased the chances of having a heart attack by nearly three-fold. Its still not known exactly why this occurs, but other studies have shown that suppressing anger can lead to chronic high blood pressure. And not all benefits are physical: anger can help with negotiating, too. A major flashpoint for aggression is the discovery that someone does not value your interests highly enough. It involves inflicting costs the threat of physical violence and withdrawing benefits loyalty, friendship, or money to help them see their mistake.
To understand how this works, first we need to get to grips with whats going on in the brain. Like most emotions, anger begins in the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure responsible for detecting threats to our well-being. Its extremely efficient raising the alarm long before the peril enters your conscious awareness. Then its up to chemical signals in the brain to get you riled. As the brain is flooded with adrenaline it initiates a burst of impassioned, energetic fury which lasts for several minutes.
Breathing and heart rate accelerate and blood pressure skyrockets. Blood rushes into the extremities, leading to the distinctive red face and throbbing forehead veins people get when theyre annoyed. Though its thought to have evolved primarily to prepare the body for physical aggression, this physiological response is known to have other benefits, boosting motivation and giving people the gall to take mental risks. View image of (Credit: Shizhao/wikimedia commons) All these physiological changes are extremely helpful as long as you get a chance to vent your anger by wrestling a lion or screaming at co-workers. Sure, you might alienate a few people, but afterwards your blood pressure should go back to normal. Avoiding grumpiness has more serious consequences. The notion that repressed feelings can be bad for your health is ancient.
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Their contributions were also more original, repeated by less than 1 of the studys participants. View image of (Credit: Getty Images). Anger really prepares the body to mobilise resources. Crucially, angry volunteers were better at moments of haphazard innovation, or so-called unstructured thinking. Lets say youre challenged to think about possible uses for a brick. While a systematic thinker might suggest ten and different kinds of building, it takes a less structured approach to invent a new use altogether, such as turning it into a weapon. In essence, creativity is down to how easily your mind is diverted from one thought path and onto another. In a situation requiring fight or flight, its easy to see how turning into a literal mad genius could be life-saving. Anger really prepares the body to mobilise resources statement it tells you that the situation youre in is bad and gives you an energetic boost to get you out of it, says baas.
For years, the link remained a mystery. Then in 2009 Matthijs baas from the University of Amsterdam decided to investigate. He recruited a group of willing students and set to work making them angry in the name of science. Half the students were asked to recall something which had irritated them and write a short essay about. This made them a bit angrier, though they werent quite driven to full-blown fits of rage, he says. The other odyssey half of the group were made to feel sad. Next the two teams were pitched against each other in a game designed to test their creativity. They had 16 minutes to think of as many ways as possible to improve education at the psychology department. As baas expected, the angry team produced more ideas at least to begin with.
hand come with substantial risks sapping your drive, dimming attention to detail and making you simultaneously gullible and selfish. Positivity is also known to encourage binge drinking, overeating and unsafe sex. View image of (Credit: Rex features). At the centre of it all is the notion our feelings are adaptive: anger, sadness and pessimism arent divine cruelty or sheer random bad luck they evolved to serve useful functions and help us thrive. From Newtons obsessive grudges to beethovens tantrums which sometimes came to blows it seems as though visionary geniuses often come with extremely short tempers. There are plenty of examples to be found in Silicon Valley. Amazon founder Jeff bezos is famed for his angry outbursts and insults (such as Im sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?) yet they havent stopped him building a 300 billion company.
Hugh Grant may be famed for being moody and a writers little challenging to work with. But could a grumpy attitude be the secret to his success? The pressure to be positive has never been greater. Cultural forces have whipped up a frenzied pursuit of happiness, spawning billion-dollar book sales, a cottage industry in self-help and plastering inspirational"s all over the internet. Now you can hire a happiness expert, undertake training in mindfulness, or seek inner satisfaction via an app. The us army currently trains its soldiers over a million people in positive psychology and optimism is taught in uk schools. Meanwhile the happiness index has become an indicator of national wellbeing to rival gdp. The truth is, pondering the worst has some clear advantages.
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Osu please note: All fields of this form are required for sending a message. To: your Name: your e-mail: Subject: Message to send: Updated: Friday, september 25, 2009. On stage hes a loveable, floppy-haired prince charming. Off camera well lets just say lab he needs a lot of personal space. He hates being a celebrity. He resents being an actor. To his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley's friends he was apparently known.