Unexpected happy occurrences in everyday life—say, an underdog local sports team wins or the sun emerges after several days of rain—can lift the collective mood of a city’s residents. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it also increases the likelihood that people will engage in risky behaviors.
So say researchers at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in a paper published in November in the scientific journal PLOS One.
The link between good moods and risk-taking has already been established in lab experiments, says Ross Otto, an assistant professor of psychology at McGill and one of the paper’s authors. However, he and his fellow researchers wanted to determine if the same held true at a city level, in real-world situations.