An emotional state impacts task performance and cognition. However, evidence of the effect of an induced emotional state on laparoscopic performance has not yet been documented. We investigated whether surgical residents in whom a positive emotion had been induced would produce a better laparoscopic task performance than residents in whom a negative emotional state had been induced.
This controlled laboratory study recruited a total of 53 junior surgical residents who were divided into 3 groups. Each group was required to watch 1 of 3 ten-minute videos designed to evoke a positive, neutral, or negative emotion before performing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy on a virtual simulation model. Task performances, as evaluated by a global assessment form and psychomotor metrics that included task time, errors, and path lengths, were compared between the 3 groups.
Video watching induced different emotions, as measured by a Visual Analog Scale on feelings. The task time was significantly shorter in the positive (13.7 ± 2.5 minutes) than in the neutrally (17.7 ± 3.9 minutes) and the negatively (18.5 ± 3.8 minutes) induced-emotion groups (P < 0.001).
Participants in the positive emotion group completed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy with a significantly lower error rate (2 vs. 4 vs. 7, P = 0.036) and shorter right-handed path length (1089.6 ± 250.6 cm vs. 1287.2 ± 355.5 cm vs. 1410.3 ± 304.1 cm, P = 0.010) than the participants in the neutral and negative emotion groups.
A positive emotion can enhance a simulated laparoscopic task performance as assessed by task time and path length. The results indicate that we might improve surgical task performance by adjusting the surgeon's emotional state. We plan a future study that will continue to investigate whether positive emotions can facilitate skill learning.