Happy Together, Sad Together: Emotional Similarity Boosts Group Motivation!

Elliott L. Conklin, Psy.D.
June 3, 2024

Exciting new research sheds light on an age-old question: is it better to laugh together or cry together? A recent study by psychologist Hoon-Seok Choi suggests that when it comes to group motivation, the answer might just be “both!”

While previous research has shown that shared happiness promotes positive group dynamics, the role of collective sadness has been less clear. Choi’s clever experiments reveal that emotional similarity among group members, regardless of whether the emotion is positive or negative, can actually enhance work motivation compared to groups with mixed emotions. What’s more, sharing either joy or sorrow seems to make group members like each other more.

These intriguing findings have important implications for understanding the nuanced ways emotions influence group behavior and relationships, both on the job and beyond. So next time you’re collaborating with colleagues, classmates, or even family members, consider the power of getting on the same emotional wavelength – even if that means shedding a tear or two together. After all, a team that feels together, succeeds together!

Of course, more research is needed to fully unpack the effects of emotional similarity versus dissimilarity across different contexts. But one thing’s for sure – this study gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “misery loves company.” And who knows, maybe a little bit of shared sadness is just the bonding experience your team needs to crush that next project. Just don’t forget the tissues!