Banking on a good mood

Today I discovered a really, really cool thing down at Wynyard Quarter. It’s called Moodbank and the concept is simple; you deposit your mood (you select a mood from over 1,000 options) in a Moodbank account using a mood ATM.

The general gist of it is that the Moodbank is a bank that has mood rather than money as its currency. The designers of this public art project say that “by mimicking and subverting the aesthetics of a bank and by contrasting analogue and digital data, we aimed to draw attention to the processes in which our feelings become commercially valuable in contemporary life.”

Don’t let that description lead you to believe this is a pretentious bit of wankery, this is excellent stuff. Mr 6 and I both deposited our moods (happy) and then clicked through to view the mood trends of Wynyard Quarter.

There was a blend of happy (21%), peachy (21%), groggy (10%), hungry (7%), curious (3%) and, among others, meh (3%).

Lonely (11%) was also in there and, looking through the transaction description, people had deposited moods including “shit, but hopeful for future” and “empty & lonely & lame”.

And then my perspective shifted. Suddenly those strangers walking past were people with feelings. It’s people watching on steroids. Having an insight into the moods of those around created a sense of belonging, something that’s difficult to achieve in an urban setting. I wonder if any of the11% of lonely people looked at that mood trend and realised that, actually, they weren’t alone in their loneliness.

It’s a thought provoking piece and one that captivated both myself and the six year old. As a parent it was a phenomenal lesson in empathy.  How empowering to a child – or anyone – to have his feelings validated without judgement. Yet outside that, the uses for the Moodbank are endless and genuinely exciting.  What impact does mood have on productivity? On learning? Do moods change through the day, the week?

Well, yes.

Researchers at  Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study that indicates that waking up on the right or wrong side of the bed can have persistent effects: employees who bring negative emotions to work not only tend to stay in a bad mood throughout the day, but their productivity falls by over 10%.

Meanwhile Ruby Nadler’s thesis “The Influence of Mood and Motivation on Cognitive Flexibility” (2013) examines the influence of mood on category learning and demonstrates that positive mood enhances and is positively related to rule-based category learning.

So if we can measure mood and accept that business performance or academic success is affected by mood, then the case for creating positive moods is clear.

In the meantime, get down to Wynyard Quarter Moodbank and make a deposit.

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