Natural Rationality | decision-making in the economy of nature


Moods and decision-making

In the last issue of Judgment and Decision Making (free online a sharp study by de Vries et al. illustrates how mood affect cognitive processing. After watching either a clip from the Muppet's Show or a clip from Schindler's list, participants played the Iowa Gambling Task (see description here). People who watch the funny clip (the Muppets, as you might have guest) scored better:
[at an early stage of the game] after experiencing the first losses in the bad decks, participants in a happy mood state outperformed participants in a sad mood state (de Vries et al., 2008 p. 48)
After a couple of trials, however, sad and happy subjects scored identically:

The authors do not argue that being in good mood warrants success, but suggest that certain moods may have adaptive value in certain situations (when the optimal choice requires analytical thinking, affective reactions seems more distracting). So next time you have a test, choose the right mood !