WASHINGTON: Drinking coffee can help people work together as a team and boost their productivity, according to a study.
Researchers from The Ohio State University in the US found that people gave more positive reviews for their group’s performance on a task – and their own contribution – if they drank caffeinated coffee beforehand.
The study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, showed that people talked more in a group setting under the influence of caffeinated coffee – but they also were more on-topic than those who drank decaf.
Coffee seems to work its magic in teams by making people more alert, said Amit Singh, a doctoral student at The Ohio State University.
“We found that increased alertness was what led to the positive results for team performance. Not surprisingly, people who drank caffeinated coffee tended to be more alert,” Singh said.
He conducted the study with Vasu Unnava and H Rao Unnava, both formerly at Ohio State and now with the University of California, Davis.
While many studies have looked at how caffeine affects individual performance, this is the first to examine the impact it has on teams, Singh said.
The first study involved 72 undergraduate students who said they were coffee drinkers. They were instructed not to drink coffee before the experiment. Half of them first participated in what they were told was a coffee-tasting task.
They were split into groups of five. After drinking a cup of coffee and rating its flavour, they were given 30 minutes of filler tasks to give the caffeine a chance to kick in.
The other half of the participants did the coffee tasting at the end of the experiment.
Each group then read about and were asked to discuss a controversial topic – the Occupy movement, a liberal movement that highlighted social and economic inequality.
After a 15-minute discussion, group members evaluated themselves and the other group members.
Results showed that those who drank the coffee before the discussion rated themselves and their fellow team members more positively than did those who drank coffee after the discussion, Singh said.
The second study was similar, except that 61 students all drank coffee at the beginning of the study.
However, half drank decaf and the others drank caffeinated brew.
Those who drank caffeinated coffee rated themselves and their fellow group members more positively than those who drank decaf.