Centre for Confidence and Well-being

Skip to content
Carol's Blog
Postcards from Scotland

Artificially boosting happiness in young people impairs learning

Though happiness has been shown to be beneficial for young people's creative thinking and flexibility, recent research shows that artificially boosting happiness in young people impairs their ability to do well on tasks which require attention to detail. This is thought to be because encouraging people to feel good means that they don?t focus on correcting weaknesses and also because the good mood indicates that things are going well and so there is no need to change things.

The study, published in this month?s issue of developmental science, involved induced happy moods (listening to Mozart and watching Jungle Book) and sad moods (listening to Mahler and watching the Lion King) in six to eleven year olds.  The findings were that young people in the happy mood were less likely to find a simple shape embedded in a complex figure than those in the other condition.

Previous studies have shown that adults who are in a good mood are less likely to focus on the detail and this study shows that the same is true for young people. The authors say that there is a popular belief which is that happy children are the best learners.  However this study shows that ?artificially inflating a child?s mood may have unintended and possibly undesirable cognitive consequences? It also shows that in some cases negative moods are helpful.  To access the article click here

Centre Events Previous Centre Events External Events Carol's Talks