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When good moods go decisively bad

Positive feelings can lead to less than ideal choices in seniors

10:24am, May 4, 2012

Feeling peppy may lead older adults to settle for less. In a new study, seniors in a good mood compared fewer options and made worse choices than did those in a bad mood or younger participants.

“Positive emotions may have costs for older adults’ decision making,” says study coauthor Bettina von Helversen, a psychologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

A bright mood makes it harder to select a quality option from a series of choices, such as finding a bargain on a new computer offered at different prices by various online sites, say von Helversen and University of Basel colleague Rui Mata.

Though the study looked at comparing prices on products, picking from a series of choices, what psychologists call sequential decision making, especially comes into play in situations such as choosing an apartment, hiring a caretaker or selecting a mate.

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