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Is Coffee Turning High Achievers Into Slackers?

As we wrap up our morning coffee consumption, along comes another study to let us know our drinking habits aren't doing our productivity levels any favors. Drink up!

A new University of British Columbia study warns us that coffee can be a real downer, especially if you tend to be a high achiever:
"Every day, millions of people use stimulants to wake up, stay alert and increase their productivity – from truckers driving all night to students cramming for exams," says Jay Hosking, a PhD candidate in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology, who led the study. "These findings suggest that some stimulants may actually have an opposite effect for people who naturally favour the difficult tasks of life that come with greater rewards."

The researcher studied both "slacker" and "worker" rats and found the "slacker" rats tended to avoid challenges after taking amphetamines. Meanwhile, the "worker" rats, which usually didn't shrink from a good challenge, were less motivated when given caffeine.

What does it all mean for the average human-type worker rat? Drink less coffee and reap the productivity rewards, I guess. But if you love coffee -- and the average U.S. worker really, really does -- then there's no way you're giving it up. No one is going to pry that coffee mug from your Kung Fu grip if you can help it, especially if you're a scientist or PR person.

No one in the office really wants to deal with your crabby, decaffeinated ass while you go through caffeine withdrawals, either. But it's another study your coffee-avoiding co-workers can use to bean you over the head as to why you should give up coffee.

Of course, you can always make the case that you're less infectious than your decaffeinated co-workers, and you waste less time than the average tea drinker. You even have a coffee consumption app now to keep you from going overboard on your caffeine buzz. So, as Gaylord Focker once said, step off.

You'll find the study in Nature's online edition of Neuropsychopharmacology. I dare you to repeat this journal title five times as fast as you can, both before and after drinking coffee. I looked the site up for you, since your coffee habit has turned you into such a slacker. You're welcome.


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