Many of us use coffee to help us to get going in a morning, or to add a little zing to a flagging workday. But recent research reveals psychological effects that go far beyond boosting alertness, and not all of them are good, according to the British Psychological Society (BPS).
The ‘up’ sides
Caffeine in coffee is a central nervous system stimulant. It increases alertness and improves focus and problem-solving. And if you’re someone who ‘uses’ caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, to help you to feel more alert for an exam, there is some evidence that it will help. A study specifically on university students found that caffeine led to a “striking improvement” on memory tests taken in the early morning, which is typically a ‘low’ point for young adults. A separate group of participants who were asked to do some exercise did not show this benefit — so it seems to be down to a direct effect on memory, rather than via a boost to general arousal, the team reports.
Research published last year also expanded the already substantial list of benefits reported for visual processing. The team found that caffeine improved people’s ability to detect moving targets— which could mean reacting more quickly to anything from a pedestrian stepping onto the road to a football hurtling your way during a game of five-a-side.
The ‘down’ side
Beware of drinking coffee before going shopping because this can encourage impulse-buying, according to research published earlier this year. The team found that people who drank just one espresso before going into a shop spent a staggering 50% more money inside than others who’d had a decaf coffee or a drink of water. They were also more likely specifically to go for ‘high hedonic’ items, such as buttery foods or relaxing products, rather than useful things. Why? The caffeine-drinkers reported feeling more excited (due, no doubt, to a misperception of a caffeine-induced faster heart rate as ‘excitement’), and when we are excited, we tend to be more impulsive.
3 responses to “The psychological effects of your morning coffee – BPS”
Hi , Tony
Hope all is well and all goes well this week!
🙏🏼 Very interesting article. It certainly explains why there is a Starbucks or Dunkin’ at the front of many a retail shop! Those marketers never miss a trick! Lol
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Hi, Rock. Thanks!
Wow what a difference in shopping! Crazy.
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