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Good mood gone bad

A burst of happiness may impair children’s attention to detail

9:03am, July 18, 2008

Happy children learn especially well, unless they have to focus on details rather than the big picture. That’s the implication of a new study in which school-age youngsters induced to feel happy lagged behind their sad- or neutral-feeling peers in finding shapes embedded within larger images.

This two-part investigation shows for the first time that an experimentally induced good mood undermines children’s ability to perform detail-oriented tasks, report psychologist Simone Schnall of the University of Plymouth in England and her colleagues online and in an upcoming Developmental Science.

Earlier studies had indic

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