Does coffee affect teamwork?

We already knew that caffeine boosts our body. But good teamwork also starts with a fresh cup of coffee, a new study suggests.

Those who drink coffee before a team meeting would better assess their own performance and that of their team when performing a task. This is what scientists from Ohio State University say, who present their results in the journal Journal of Psychopharmacology.


According to co-author Amit Singh of Ohio State University, this is mainly due to an increased concentration as a result of caffeine consumption. “We found that increased alertness led to positive results for team performance,” he said. “Not surprisingly, people who drank caffeinated coffee were more alert.”

While many studies have been published in recent years on how caffeine affects individual performance, this is the first to examine its impact on teams, Singh said. About 72 coffee-drinking students took part in the study and were instructed not to drink any more coffee before the experiment.

The participants were split into two groups: one team drank coffee before the discussion, the other after. Then each group was asked to read and discuss texts on a controversial topic. After a 15-minute discussion, the students evaluated themselves and the other group members.

The results show that those who drank coffee before the discussion rated themselves and their team members more positively than those who drank coffee after the discussion.


In a second study, Singh got 61 students to drink coffee at the start of the experiment. However, half got decaffeinated coffee. And here, too, those who had drunk caffeine rated themselves and their fellow group members more positively than the other group.

Then all participants rated how alert they felt at the end of the study. Those who had been given the coffee with caffeine evaluated themselves as more alert than the others. Also notable: people who rated themselves more alert – whether they had been given caffeine or not – tended to rate themselves and their peers higher.

This suggests, according to the researchers, that any agent that increases alertness, such as exercise, may produce similar results. “We suspect that when people are more alert, they see themselves and the other group members contribute more, and that gives them a more positive attitude,” said Singh.

In addition, participants from the coffee group said more often than the students who were given decaffeinated coffee that they would be willing to work with their group again. The results also showed that people talked more after drinking caffeine and they also stuck to the subject more.



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