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Cosmo and Nanu - Aliens

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Happy shoppers

Kathryn Quinn

Happy people rarely make good decisions according to psychologists working on a research project at Basel University in Switzerland.

Psychologists Bettina von Helversen and Rui Mataasked asked over 600 people of various ages to make a decision on what to purchase or invest in based on a computer presentation.

The decisions they were asked to make were across a broad spectrum ranging from the best job offer, through to the best flat to rent, or fridge to buy or what lawnmower to rent.

Candidates were graded according to age and then asked to repeat the test after various activities to put them into a better mood.

What the team found to their surprise was that younger people usually made a much better decision than older people – but not because of cognitive ability but because the older people tended to be more happy than the younger.

In fact across the board those who were in a good mood and feeling positive about life rarely made such a good decision as those who are not so happy.

Ironically the study backs up what historians have known for years – that many of mankind's greatest achievements and decisions are often made during times of poverty, famine and war.

The team found that mathematically the best decision were always made by those who didn't leap on the first offer before they had the chance to see what else was on the market, but also who did not wait so long that the best offers had then vanished. A middle ground that allowed enough offers to be seen to have a valuable judgement but at the same time not to miss out on the best chance was most often made by young people. Older candidates tended to decide more quickly than the younger (Corr) and on average pay more for the products they selected.




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