We’re a culture obsessed with happiness. Everyone seems to be chasing it, and the science of happiness has even become an entire industry. But, even happy people feel sad, and it turns out there’s a very good reason for that.
Professor of Psychology, Joseph Forgas, is at the forefront of research into the purpose of sadness. He’s been studying moods and their purpose. He says that research is revealing that each emotion serves a specific evolutionary purpose – including emotions that many of us try to avoid.
“Fear, anger, and disgust, are useful emotions. Fear makes us avoid dangerous situations, disgust helps us to avoid potentially negative stimuli, anger helps us overcome different problems in life.”
His research is showing that there are even some extraordinary benefits to being sad.
“People in a mild negative-affective state (sadness), tend to perform better, their memory is more accurate, their judgements seem to be less biased, and they communicate more effectively…The purpose of mild sadness is it functions like an alarm signal. It alerts us subconsciously to pay a little bit more attention to what goes on around us. To be a little bit more focussed, and to be a little bit more attentive.”
In this podcast, Professor Joe Forgas unravels the puzzle of sadness and explains why we shouldn’t feel bad about feeling sad.
About Our Guests:
Joseph Forgas is a Professor of Psychology at the University of New South Wales. He’s researching the purpose of sadness.