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Drink Up! Coffee Drinkers Are Better Team Players at Work, Study Suggests

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Getting out of bed knowing that you've got work meetings or social engagements scheduled all day can be tough. The thought of having to work constructively with your peers — or just talk to any human being, for that matter — can be outright dreadful... that is, until you've had your morning cup of joe. That friendly caffeine kick isn't all in your head, though: new research out of the University of Ohio shows that coffee really does boost your ability to collaborate with others, making you a better team player.

For the study — which was first published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology on April 5 — researchers conducted two experiements. The first analyzed 72 coffee drinkers who were told they’d be taking part in a coffee tasting test. Half of them were asked to drink a cup of coffee and rate its flavor at the beginning of the experiment, while the others did so at the end of the experiment. After the caffeine had taken effect, they were split into groups and asked to discuss controversial topics like social and economic inequality for 15 minutes. The participants then evaluated their own performance in the conversation, as well as that of their peers. Results showed that those who drank the coffee beforehand rated themselves and their teammates more highly than those who didn’t.

The second experiment analyzed 61 students. All of these participants drank coffee at the beginning, though half of them were given decaf instead. Supporting the results of the first experiment, this variation also showed that those who drank the caffeinated coffee performed better in a serious group discussion. Researcher and study co-author Amit Singh attributed the results to caffeines' ability to boost mood and energy levels. "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," Singh said.

What's more, those who drank the caffeinated coffee were not only rated higher in performance, they were more able to stay focused and on topic than their uncaffeinated counterparts. According to the researchers, these participants offered more relevant insights in their conversations. “They’re talking about more relevant things after drinking caffeinated coffee,” Singh pointed out. So drink up — Your co-workers will thank you!

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