Teamwork makes the dream work. And coffee makes everyone friendlier.
Here’s another perk to drinking coffee at work.
Ohio State University researchers have found that drinking caffeine makes workers more positive toward their colleagues and themselves by making them more alert.
The team conducted two tests to determine whether drinking caffeinated coffee brews good teamwork. First, the researchers tapped 72 undergraduate students, who described themselves as regular coffee drinkers, to come in for what they thought was a coffee tasting after abstaining from coffee. But the real test was how they would discuss a controversial topic (the Occupy movement against social and economic inequality) with or without the caffeine infusion.
So half of the students were given coffee about 30 minutes before splitting into teams of five to have the Occupy discussion, and the other half did the coffee tasting at the end of their group debates. And those who drank a cup of joe before getting into the discussion rated themselves and their fellow team members more positively than did those who drank coffee afterward.
The second study was conducted the same, except this time 61 students all drank coffee at the beginning of the test — except half were unknowingly drinking decaf, while the other half drank caffeinated coffee. And again, those who drank caffeinated coffee ranked themselves and their teammates more positively than those who sipped decaf. The caffeinated coffee drinkers also talked more, and stayed more on topic, than those who had decaf. And those who drank caffeinated coffee were more likely than those drinking decaf to say that they would be willing to work with their group again.
Amit Singh, the co-author and a doctoral student in marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, said in his report that these good vibes are steeped in the caffeine buzz.
“We found that increased alertness was what led to the positive results for team performance. (And) not surprisingly, people who drank caffeinated coffee tended to be more alert,” Singh said in a statement. “We suspect that when people are more alert they see themselves and the other group members contributing more, and that gives them a more positive attitude.”
That’s great news for the the Americans averaging two cups of joe a day as part of the $48 billion coffee industry, not to mention those around the globe gulping more than 400 billion cups each year. Drinking four cups of coffee a day has also been shown to reduce your risk of dying by 64%, and decrease your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease by reducing beta amyloid, a protein often found in the brains of people diagnosed with the memory-crippling condition, by up to 50%.
But you don’t have to gulp down gallons of java to get the same benefit. This research suggests that any method to boost alertness, such as exercise, could create similar results.
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