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The "Global Implications" of Coffee in Meetings

In stressful meetings, does coffee help or harm the situation? Lindsay St. Claire, Robert C. Hayward and Peter J. Rogers attempted to answer that question in a new study, which is summarized here by the BPS Research Digest: “For two men collaborating or negotiating under stressful circumstances, caffeine consumption was bad news, undermining their performance and confidence. By contrast, for pairs of women, drinking caffeine often had a beneficial effect on these same factors. The researchers can’t be sure, but they think the differential effect of caffeine on men and women may have to do with the fact that women tend to respond to stress in a collaborative, mutually protective style (known as ‘tend and befriend’) whereas men usually exhibit a fight or flight response.” The sample size is small, and the researchers highlight other problems, but they also point out that “because many … meetings, including those at which military and other decisions of great import are made, are likely to be male-dominated. Our research suggests that men’s effectiveness is particularly likely to be compromised. Because caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, it follows that the global implications are potentially staggering.” [%comments]