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We wish this was a story about how leaving the office for lunch makes you a more productive worker. Unfortunately, it's not. Quite the opposite.

A new study by German scientists at Humboldt University in Berlin instead found that if you leave the workplace for a little sausage and sauerkraut at a restaurant with a friend at midday, you compromise “cognitive control and error monitoring” upon your return. Those pathetic drudges who eat alone at their desks showed no such adverse effects, Bloomberg reports.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, compared participants who ate alone at their desks to those who walked to a restaurant to eat lunch with a pal. Each group consumed the same exact meal, but the desk lunchers ate under time restrictions.

A mood-rating questionnaire found that those who left the office for lunch were calmer and sleepier — but also showed “reduced cognitive control” (i.e, they were dopier than the desk-eaters).

But, the researchers pointed out, reduced cognitive control isn't always a bad thing — it depends on your job. Accountants and scientists who eat out may see their work performance decline, but artists and other dippy types may actually see benefits.

“Reduced cognitive control is a disadvantage when close self-monitoring of performance and detailed attention to errors is required, such as in laboratory and factory work or numerical processing,” they wrote. “In other situations, an attenuation of cognitive control may be advantageous, such as when social harmony or creativity is desired.”

It also could be a plus if you're trying to get fired.


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