This may not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever drunk coffee or been around other humans, but drinking coffee makes people feel more positive about their individual performance and their group’s performance in group work, according to new research from UC Davis.
The university, home of the coffee-industry-friendly UC Davis Coffee Center, claims the research is the first to explore the effects of coffee drinking on group performance, as opposed to the thousands of studies that have attempted to quantify the effects of coffee consumption on individuals.
“If you look at where coffee’s being consumed, a significant amount happens in group settings,” Rao Unnava, dean of the Graduate School of Management and co-author of the study along with adjunct assistant professor Vasu Unnava, said in an announcement of the study.
In general, the research showed that people drinking coffee in groups had more focused and relevant group discussions, increased involvement and a better feeling about their own and others’ participation compared to people not drinking coffee.
Along with research partner and Ohio State University graduate student Amit Singh, the Unnuvas conducted two experiments involving approximately 70 U.S. university students. In the first experiment, students were divided into two kinds of groups: one in which coffee was served for 30 minutes prior to a group discussion on the “occupy” movement, and another in which coffee was served after the discussion.
After the pre-discussion group reported higher positive ratings for their personal and group performances, the researchers then attempted to discern whether it was the caffeine itself or the act of consuming coffee in a group that led people to feel more positive. So the next experiment involved two types of groups that were each served coffee prior to another group discussion, with one type served traditional coffee, and another served decaf. Though decaf is by no means something at which to scoff, the caffeinated group again reported more positive ratings.
“The researchers pointed to the increased level of alertness as being the mechanism for the positive effects,” UC Davis said in its announcement.
So there you have it: Group work with coffee > Group work without coffee.
The UC Davis study, “Coffee With Co-workers: Role of Caffeine on Evaluations of the Self and Others in Group Settings,” was published last month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.