Can Feeling Negative be a Positive Thing?

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Feeling good is something we all want to achieve, and if possible, most people would prefer to never feel bad. But when we feel down we have better critical thinking and analysis skills. When we feel good, we do not feel as challenged or pressured into problem solving, but when we feel stress or become agitated we begin to look at the current issue we’re facing and come up with more ways to solve it.

Being in a negative mood can benefit an individual in five ways: when you’re working on critical reasoning tasks, when you want to judge people fairly and accurately, when you might get taken advantage of, when there’s temptation to cheat, and when you’re empathizing with suffering. When you’re working on critical reasoning tasks, “non-amused” people can remember more details from what they are reading. When judging others, people who were amused are more likely to make stereotypical judgements about someone they don’t know. People who are feeling good are also more likely to get taken advantage of, according to the article. Individuals in a negative mood are better at detecting when they were being deceived and if someone is lying to them. This supports the idea that people who feel negatively are more aware and pay more attention to details.

Feeling good may compromise our morality, a claim made in another study that shows individuals that are in better moods, tend to treat themselves to rewards (in this case money) when they haven’t earned it. People who are feeling upset are also better at feeling empathetic, as they too know what its like to be currently feeling down.

Source: Newman, Kira M. “In a Bad Mood? Studies Show Why That Can Be a Good Thing,” YES! Magazine, March 21, 2017,

Student Researcher: Kathleen Waterbury (College of Marin)

Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)