Psychologists at the University of Virginia and the University of Plymouth in the UK have conducted experimental research that contrasts with the belief that happy children are the best learners. The findings, in the journalDevelopmental Science, indicate that where attention to detail is required, happy children may be at a disadvantage.
The researchers conducted a series of experiments with different child age groups who had happy or sad moods induced with the aid of music and movie video clips. The children were then asked to undertake a task that required attention to detail – to observe a detailed image such as a house and a simple shape such as a triangle, and then locate the shape within the larger picture. The findings in each experiment with both music and video clips were conclusive, say the researchers, with the children induced to feel a sad or neutral mood performing the task better than those induced to feel a happy state of mind.
Co-researcher Vikram Jaswal, from the University of Virginia, added that the findings contradict conventional wisdom that happiness always leads to optimal outcomes. “The good feeling that accompanies happiness comes at a hidden cost. It leads to a particular style of thinking that is suited for some types of situations, but not others.”
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Source: University of Virginia