Coffee helps people work together as a team, study finds

Coffee is more than just an early morning pick-me-up

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 06 June 2018 10:41 BST
Three-quarters of those polled said they do not get as much face-to-face time with their friends as they would like
Three-quarters of those polled said they do not get as much face-to-face time with their friends as they would like (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It’s no secret that coffee can give you the energy boost you need to make it out of bed in the morning or survive a slew of dull meetings in the office, but that daily dose of caffeine could be doing much more to affect your working day than you think.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, drinking caffeinated coffee can actually benefit your performance at work. By making people more alert and focused on the task at hand, coffee was found to improve the quality of teamwork.

Researchers at Ohio State University conducted two experiments involving a group of undergraduates and found that those who drank coffee benefited from the buzz in more ways than one.

The first study included 72 coffee drinkers who were instructed not to drink any coffee before taking part.

They were told they’d be taking part in a tasting task, with half of them being asked to drink a cup of coffee and rate its flavour at the very beginning while the other half did this at the end of the experiment.

After the caffeine had taken effect, the participants were split into smaller groups and asked to discuss controversial topics regarding social and economic inequality for 15 minutes, after which they had to evaluate their performance in the conversation and that of their fellow participants.

The results show that those who drank coffee beforehand rated themselves and their teammates more highly than those who didn’t.

The second study followed a similar format and involved 61 students, however, on this occasion each of them drank coffee at the very beginning and half of them were given decaf.

Costa Coffee have pledged to recycle up to 500 million coffee cups a year by 2020

Much like the participants in the initial study, those who were given the caffeinated coffee rated their performance in the discussions more positively than those who drank decaf.

According to the study’s authors, the results can be credited to caffeinated coffee boosting participants’ alertness.

“We suspect that when people are more alert they see themselves and the other group members contributing more, and that gives them a more positive attitude," co-author Amit Singh said

After analysing how the conversations played out amongst those who had drunk the coffee, researchers also concluded that these people tended to stay more on topic than those who drank decaf or none at all.

“They're talking about more relevant things after drinking caffeinated coffee," Singh added.

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