Brief bad feelings have marked effect
A new study suggests feeling a bit bad can improve students’ academic success.
Research has revealed that students who were mostly happy during their four years of university but who also experienced occasional negative moods had the highest GPAs at the time of graduation.
In contrast, students who experienced high levels of negative moods and low levels of positive moods often ended up with the lowest GPAs - a pattern consistent with depressive disorders.
“Students often report feeling overwhelmed and experiencing high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms,” says lead researcher Professor Erin Barker.
“This study shows that we need to teach them strategies to both manage negative emotions and stress in productive ways, and to maintain positive emotional experiences.”
The study tracked 187 first-year students at a large university throughout their four years of schooling, having them complete questionnaires about recent emotional experiences each year.
“We looked at students' response patterns to better understand how experiences of positive and negative emotions occurred over time. We then combined average patterns to look how each person varied from their own average and examined different combinations of trait and state affects together,” Barker explains.
“This allowed us to identify the pattern associated with the greatest academic success: those who were happy for the most part, but who also showed bouts of elevated negative moods.”
The findings demonstrate that both negative and positive emotions play a role in our successes.
“We often think that feeling bad is bad for us. But if you're generally a happy person, negative emotions can be motivating. They can signal to you that there is a challenge that you need to face. Happy people usually have coping resources and support that they draw on to meet that challenge.”