"Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking," says Ruby Nadler, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario.
For this study, Nadler and her colleagues Rahel Rabi and John Paul Minda looked at a particular kind of learning that is improved by creative thinking.
Students who took part in the study were put into different moods and then given a category learning task to do (they learned to classify sets of pictures with visually complex patterns).
The researchers manipulated mood with help from music clips and video clips; first, they tried several out to find out what made people happiest and saddest.
The happiest music was a peppy Mozart piece, and the happiest video was of a laughing baby. The researchers then used these in the experiment, along with sad music and video (a piece of music from Schindler's List and a news report about an earthquake) and a piece of music and a video that didn't affect mood.
After listening to the music and watching the video, people had to try to learn to recognize a pattern.
Happy volunteers were better at learning a rule to classify the patterns than sad or neutral volunteers.
"If you have a project where you want to think innovatively, or you have a problem to carefully consider, being in a positive mood can help you to do that," Nadler says.
And music is an easy way to get into a good mood. Everyone has a different type of music that works for them-don't feel like you have to switch to Mozart, she says.
The study has been published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)