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23 May 2023
Our ability to process information breaks down when we experience heightened negative emotions.

Originally found at

We all like to think of ourselves as rational human beings. If there's a drastic change in our lives or at work, we can evaluate our options and make the best choice. But James Summers, an expert in team management and adaptation at Iowa State University, says our ability to process information breaks down when we experience heightened negative emotions.

Fear and anxiety can lead to withdrawal and avoidance, both of which hinder a group's ability to coordinate and overcome challenges. Because of this, many researchers who study organizational behavior, human resource management, applied psychology and communications have viewed negative emotions as counterproductive.

"Everything in the 'work teams' literature says emotion needs to be managed or regulated. But it gets to the point where you are in a situation where you are not going to be able to do that. So, how can we take something debilitating and switch it to get people to act and be successful," says Summers, associate professor of management and the Max S. Wortman, Jr. Professor.

In a newly published paper (Academy of Management Review), Summers and his co-author, Timothy Munyon, professor of management at the University of Tennessee, argue that negative emotions—if leveraged in the right way—can help teams adapt. They make their case by dissecting scenes from three blockbuster movies, each of which represent a different type of team and threat.

Continue reading the original article at

Read the original research in Academy of Management Review.

Read the Academy of Management Insights summary.

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