As we have read about moods and emotions in the chapters this week, it is now time for you to examine first hand how your mood can affect your performance at different tasks and how you can alter your mood through small interventions to help improve task performance.
Pick at least three different actions that you perform each week at least twice a week. These can be from different realms of your life – professional/work related, community (Church or something else you volunteer or participate socially in), family, and individual (e.g. driving a car – see my example below). The first time you go to do one of your selected action, write down how you feel and what mood you are in. Then perform your task. Either upon completion or at the stopping point for the day make note on how well you performed. Then next time you go to do that action, engage in an activity to change your mood or emotions (think of it as an experimental treatment from our chapter 1 readings). It could be listening to music, exercising, talking with your friends/family, having a coffee, or whatever helps shift your mood. It does not have to be from negative to positive – it could be from positive to negative (especially if something bad happened – like the morning you are to do your second performance, you are in a negative mood as you were in an accident or a 2 hour traffic jam) or more likely from a neutral state to a more positive/energized state. After changing your mood or emotions, perform the task, and then record details about your performance.
Example of what an action and treatment conditions might be (condensed version of what you will write up the assignment):
Living in Miami is not everything the Golden Girls paints it to be. The major thing they leave out is how bad the traffic is and how it takes an hour or more to cross town. People drive crazy as well, acting as if they were piloting a pinball across the pinball machine’s face rather than operating multi-ton machines on a road with other people and vehicles. Often as I am getting onto I-95 I feel scared/nervous. In order for me not be as scared driving and to be more able to make lane changes or quick adjustments, I put on “battle music” (like Pat Benetar’s “Love is a Battlefield” or Daniel Beddingfield’s “Gotta Get Through This”). When I listen to music like that, I can focus on the song and feel confident and empowered to drive in the crazy Miami conditions. I found this intervention so useful I now make different song lists for the different driving conditions I will face (long road trips, traffic jams, etc). Based upon the performance I need, I select music to help trigger the right mood for me to succeed.
Write up short summaries (about 2 paragraphs per action) of your performance of each action. One paragraph per each time you performed with information about your mood and your performance level. If needed you can have an additional paragraph about your intervention in order to explain the treatment (mood/emotion changer) you applied to yourself the second time you carried out the action. Then reflect on both how your performance changes and how effective the “treatments” you applied were to 1) changing your emotions/moods and 2) creating differences in task performance. After explaining and analyzing your experiments for each action and treatment, write a few paragraphs about your results, comparing and contrasting the effectiveness of the treatments. Make recommendations for yourself for the future. In all this should be about 10 paragraphs (give or take) long. You will not be penalized for going over.