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SAD PEOPLE DO BETTER JOB, STUDY FINDS.

Byline: Doug Mellgren Associated Press

Feeling sad, blue, down in the dumps? The boss might like to know this - a new study indicates unhappy people do better work than cheerful ones.

``We were surprised by the result. We expected the opposite,'' Geir Kaufmann, a professor of psychology at the Norwegian College of Business in Oslo, said Wednesday about his study.

He said cheerful test subjects overestimated their own ability, underestimated the complexity of problems presented to them and tended to opt for answers that seemed easy or obvious.

The glum were less confident, looked deeper, and found far more creative solutions.

``There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of people doing their best work while depressed,'' said Kaufmann, 52. ``Einstein has said he was in a sad mood the day he came up with the basis of his theory of relativity.''

To test the effect of mood on performance, Kaufmann divided 91 high school and college students into three groups. One group was shown an upbeat movie; the second a depressing movie; and the third a documentary of neutral emotional content.

Questions before and after the movies were designed to lead subjects to choose the ``simple and superficial answer'' and not the best solution.

``The upbeat group settled for the poor-but-easy answer, while the down group found the less obvious but more creative answers,'' he said.

That does not mean employers should immediately paint workplaces black and pipe in funereal music, since upbeat workers are better at many tasks, including group brainstorming sessions, he said.

``But studies do indicate that it is important for people to be in the right mood for the tasks at hand,'' he said.
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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 19, 1996
Words:278
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