Final dates! Join the tutor2u subject teams in London for a day of exam technique and revision at the cinema. Learn more

In the News

Psychology In The News | Bust a Move and Improve Your Mood!

Rosey Gardiner-Earl

1st April 2024

New research links dancing to mood and motivation. If you’re revising and find yourself in a slump, get up and dance - it may lift your spirits and spur you on!

Schmidt et al (2023) found that mimicking ‘happy’ dance moves boosts happiness and motivation toward work goals. The findings build on earlier evidence that joyful movements like jumping heighten mood while sad actions like sinking to the ground lower it.

Schmidt's team used the EMOKINE dance library - videos of basic dance sequences created to express different feelings. Sixty-six adults learned and performed dances labelled as happy or sad and modelled by a human dancer or robot avatar. Participants then had to rate their mood immediately after performing the dance as well as rate how motivated they felt to achieve work-related goals. Regardless of the instructor, performing ‘happy’ dances increased positive emotions and work motivation afterwards while dancing ‘sad dances’ evoked more negative feelings.

The authors propose incorporating dance breaks to boost workplace motivation, although when surveyed, participants showed modest interest in dancing to self-regulate. When asked to indicate on a scale of 1-100 (with 1 being highly unlikely and 100 being highly likely) the average score was just 39 out of 100. It may be that those working from home may be more open to giving dancing a try to boost their productivity!


Schmidt EM, Smith RA, Fernandez A, Emmermann B and Christensen JF (2023) Mood induction through imitation of full-body movements with different affective intentions British Journal of Psychology 115 (1) pp148-180


  1. What would be most appropriate for the authors of this study: a directional or a non-directional hypothesis? Why?
  2. The study used videos from the EMOKINE dance stimuli library. What is the advantage of using an existing standardised set of dance stimuli over asking participants to spontaneously move in a ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ way?
  3. The dances that participants were asked to imitate (before they rated their mood) were labelled on the screen as ‘happy’ or ‘sad’. Why could this threaten the internal validity of this study?
  4. The researchers used a repeated measures design, all participants completed both conditions of the ‘happy’ and ‘sad’ dances. Which control would have been necessary for the researchers to include, how would they have done this, in this study?
  5. The study measured self-reported mood and motivation levels in participants before and after performing the happy and sad dance moves. What is the limitation of using self-report measures to evaluate the impact of the dance study?

Download this teaching activity!

Rosey Gardiner-Earl

Rosey has 15 years of experience teaching Psychology and has worked as both a Subject and Senior Leader in school and large sixth form setting. Rosey is also an experienced A level Psychology examiner.

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.