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Does happiness make you clever?

London - There are few, if any, drawbacks to feeling happy and now a new study has shown that a positive state of mind can boost our brain power.

Researchers set out to investigate if a new breed of offices complete with football tables, slides and crazy golf are a waste of time, or whether they boost productivity.

Google was among the first of the large firms to incorporate games tables and fun distractions into its offices. Credit: REUTERS

The scientists discovered that happy people outperformed their stressed counterparts and were more efficient employees.

A number of modern workplaces now offer staff fun things to do during their lunch break.

Google was among the first of the large firms to incorporate games tables and fun distractions into its offices.

While the company has gone from strength to strength, researchers have wondered if the firm’s “work hard, play hard” work ethic has been part of its success.

“For more than 30 years, it has been claimed that a way to improve software developers’ productivity and software quality is to focus on people and to provide incentives to make developers satisfied and happy. This claim has rarely been verified in software engineering research,” the study says.

Now a team of researchers from the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in Italy have proved that Google’s strategy is a good one, after collecting data from 42 computer scientists at the university.

They tested students to investigate how their emotions and moods affected their programming abilities as well as their creativity and problem solving, IT World reported.

“Among the many skills required for software development, developers must possess high analytical problem-solving skills and creativity for the software construction process,” the study says.

After measuring the emotional states of the students using what psychologists call the Scale of Positive and Negative Experience Affect Balance (SPANE-B), they tested the creativity of each participant by asking them to write captions for photographs, which were scored by a panel of judges.

They were then asked to play a game to investigate their problem- solving skills and the time they took to solve the puzzle provided a score on their analytical capabilities.

They failed to show that happiness boosted creativity, but they did find that happy software developers were better at problem-solving – a skill highly prized by businesses like Google.

“The empirical data supported a difference in the analytical problem-solving skills of software developers regarding their affective states,” the study says.

“More specifically, the results suggest that the happiest software developers are more productive in analytical problem-solving performance.”

So it seems it is worthwhile for tech companies to invest in fun activities at work. – Daily Mail

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