Public Release: 30-Nov-2016
New research: Feeling bad has academic benefits
A Concordia study reveals that occasional negative moods can positively impact student success
For some, the start of December marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. But for most university students, the coming weeks mean final exams, mounting stress and negative moods.
While that doesn't seem like an ideal combination for great grades, new research from Concordia University in Montreal shows that the occasional bout of bad feelings can actually improve students' academic success.
A study published in Developmental Psychology by Erin Barker, professor of psychology in Concordia's Faculty of Arts and Science, shows 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, the study also confirmed that 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 Barker, who is also a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development.
"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."
These 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."