Clouds DO Have a Silver Lining: They're Good for Your Memory

Daily Mail (London), April 18, 2009 | Go to article overview

Clouds DO Have a Silver Lining: They're Good for Your Memory


Byline: Jenny Hope

NEXT time you find yourself drenched in an unexpected downpour, look on the bright side - it'll be a memorable experience.

While wet weather may make us feel gloomy, it sharpens the memory and improves our recall, psychologists say.

But those who feel in a good mood because it's a sunny day are able to remember less well, according to memory tests carried out by Australian researchers.

Professor Joe Forgas, who led the research, said: 'It seems counterintuitive but a little bit of sadness is a good thing.

'People performed much better on our memory test when the weather was unpleasant and they were in a slightly negative mood.

On bright sunny days, when they were more likely to be happy and carefree, they flunked it.' The tests were carried out on shoppers at a store in Sydney, where researchers randomly placed ten small ornamental objects on the check-out counter.

They included plastic animal figures, a toy cannon, a pink piggy bank and four small matchboxsized vehicles, including a red bus and a tractor.

On rainy days, sad music was played in the store, including requiems or slow pieces by Chopin.

When it was bright and sunny, customers heard cheery music such as Bizet's Carmen and Gilbert and Sullivan tunes.

This was done to 'further influence them towards negative or positive moods', said researchers at the University of New South Wales School of Psychology.

After shopping, customers were asked how many of the objects they could remember. Their scores were three times higher when the weather was bad and they were feeling grumpy, compared with those tested on sunny days. …

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