"Caffeine helps meetings!" or "coffee addicts function badly without coffee?"
Researchers found that people gave more positive reviews for their group's performance on a task -- and their own contribution -- if they drank caffeinated coffee beforehand.
A second study showed that people talked more in a group setting under the influence of caffeinated coffee -- but they also were more on-topic than those who drank decaf.
Coffee seems to work its magic in teams by making people more alert, said Amit Singh, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in marketing at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.
"We found that increased alertness was what led to the positive results for team performance," Singh said.
"Not surprisingly, people who drank caffeinated coffee tended to be more alert."
Singh conducted the study with Vasu Unnava and H. Rao Unnava, both formerly at Ohio State and now with the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis. The study appears online in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
While many studies have looked at how caffeine affects individual performance, this is the first to examine the impact it has on teams, Singh said.
The first study involved 72 undergraduate students who said they were coffee drinkers. They were instructed not to drink coffee before the experiment.
Half of them first participated in what they were told was a coffee-tasting task. They were split into groups of five. After drinking a cup of coffee and rating its flavor, they were given 30 minutes of filler tasks to give the caffeine a chance to kick in. The other half of the participants did the coffee tasting at the end of the experiment.