I don’t know about you but I find my mood lifts considerably when the weather is good and drops badly when the weather is gloomy. It’s a pretty natural response to a natural occurrence. However, while bad weather may be bad for the soul it turns out it could be good for the brain.
According to The Telegraph, researchers from Australia’s University of New South Wales School of Psychology recently found that gloomy weather can boost brain power, helping our memories perform better.
The study questioned shoppers emerging from a shop in Sydney, Australia over a period of two months. The team conducted memory tests on their subjects and marked the results in accordance with the state of the weather on that day. They found that people did much better on the test when the weather was bad than when the weather was good.
The results were pretty conclusive, showing many people recall three times as much information when the skies are gray and overcast as they do when the sun is shining. This was put down to the negative mood associated with gloomy weather. In order to enhance that slightly bad mood, sad music was piped into the store on days when the weather was bad, and uplifting music played on good weather days.
Professor Joe Forgas, who led the research, said:
Being happy tends to promote a thinking style that is less focused on our surroundings. In a positive mood we are more likely to make more snap judgments about people we meet. We are more forgetful and yet we are paradoxically far more likely to be overconfident that our recall is correct.
Mild negative mood, in turn, tends to increase attention to our surroundings and produce a more careful, thorough thinking style.
What does this prove? Not much really. But it is interesting nonetheless. This research would seem to suggest that countries which are blessed (if that’s the right word) with bad weather on a regular basis should be more intelligent than those where the sun shines all-year-round. Being British this suits me fine, although I’m not too sure people living in Spain, Italy, the West Coast of America, or Australia, to name but a few, would agree.
These findings could also be used for good. How about making students slightly miserable and moody right before they sit exams? Oh wait, I nearly forgot, most students are already miserable and moody anyway, so that wouldn’t really help.