The systematic study of mood has received attention from a broad variety of social scientists. For example, social, personality, cognitive, and clinical psychologists have reasons for working to understand how people develop, experience, and respond to certain moods. Social psychologists may be interested in investigating how good or bad moods influence social interaction patterns. Personality psychologists may be interested in investigating how certain personality types may predict people’s tendencies to experience certain moods. Alternately, cognitive psychologists may be more interested in examining how mood influences decision-making processes. Clinical psychologists may, in turn, be more interested in studying how mood disorders are manifest. Due to the wide appeal of investigation of people’s moods, the study of mood has enjoyed a long and productive history. The subdomains of psychology approach the study of mood as well as its causes, effects, and correlates in different ways. Social psychologists have typically studied moods through laboratory manipulations, which induce short-term state changes. Personality and clinical psychologists typically explore mood-related phenomena through the use of self-report instruments, interviews, and observational methods designed to assess both state variations and trait-anchored propensities.
Mood may be conceptualized along several dimensions: dimensions of valence, negative to positive; strength, weak to strong; and arousal, not aroused to aroused. Examples of moods include happiness, sadness, excitement, nervousness, and calmness. A given mood may persist for short amounts of time (e.g., a few hours) to relatively long amounts of time (e.g., a few weeks). Mood differs from related psychological experiences, such as affect, attitude, emotion, and temperament, in several key ways. Affect refers to people’s “good” or “bad” cognitive appraisals of attitude objects. Emotion and mood both exist as affective states, “by-products” of positive or negative appraisals of experiences or objects. However, mood differs from emotion in that mood is usually experienced as a diffuse state that is often not readily perceived as attributable to any given attitude object. In contrast, emotion is most often perceived as the result of a discrete experience. For example, a person might not be aware that he or she is in a good mood because the person anticipates receiving a paycheck the following day. This same person might also be acutely aware that he or she is, potentially at the same time, experiencing the emotion of happiness due to a recent engagement for marriage.
Whereas emotion and mood are most often the results of affective responses, attitude and temperament influence affective response patterns. That is, attitude and temperament play a role in how people evaluate events or objects whereas emotion and mood result from these evaluations. Though attitude is more readily distinguished from mood, how people evaluate attitude objects most assuredly differs from the mood that they may experience as a result, the distinction between mood and temperament is less clear. For example, it may be difficult to determine whether or not a person is merely in a sad mood or whether he or she is clinically depressed. Both the mood and temperament of depression, or dysphoria, may have similar symptoms to the observer (i.e., lethargy, crying, irritability). Accordingly, the most useful rule of thumb may be to conceptualize temperament as a lasting, relatively stable personality trait and mood as a shorter-lived, more dynamic psychological state.
Though a given mood might not persist for a very long time, it influences how people perceive and make sense of the world around them. An impressive body of research suggests that people who are in positive moods may be more likely to use cognitive shortcuts, relying on general and idiographic heuristics, than people who are in negative moods. Alternately people who are in negative moods may be more likely to use information in their environment rather than rely on heuristics to make their decisions. Interestingly, as a result, people in positive moods may be more susceptible to persuasive appeals and more likely to engage in stereotyping than people in negative moods.
Additionally mood may influence people’s memories for certain situations. More specifically, being in a particular mood (e.g., surprised) may prompt a person to recall other times during which he or she experienced the relevant mood strongly (e.g., a surprise birthday party). Correspondingly, being in or recalling a situation that evoked strong affective responses (e.g., watching the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on television) may evoke associated moods, such as fear.
Furthermore mood may provide people with information concerning how they should manage or respond to cues in their environments. For example, a popular theory of self-esteem, sociometer theory, posits that negative mood may signal to a person that he or she is being excluded or rejected. An increase in negative mood may alert the rejected person that he or she is being devalued in a social interaction and that he or she should do something interpersonally (e.g., flatter the rejector) or intrapersonally (e.g., artificially inflate reported self-evaluations) in order to maintain positive self-worth.
In addition to its influences on cognition, mood is also associated with certain patterns of physiological responding. Brain imaging studies have revealed that, though affective and nonaffective centers in the brain share common components, differences between these areas exist, indicating that structures associated with affective responding are distinct from those not associated with affective responding. Moreover, positive affect and negative affect may share neural processes indicating that people may have the capacity to experience both positive and negative affect at the same time.
Although the possibility that one can simultaneously experience, for example, pleasure and pain, exists, the bulk of research examining the influence of mood on physiology and vice versa suggests that positive and negative moods are associated with distinct patterns of brain activation and corresponding arousal and behavior patterns. More specifically, good mood is associated with varying levels of positive arousal whereas bad mood is associated with varying levels of negative arousal. Stated differently, positive mood fosters approach behaviors, whereas negative mood fosters withdrawal behaviors.
The experience of negative mood may be so aversive that, not only do people seek to avoid it, they may also take potentially harmful behaviors in an attempt to overcome it. People who are in bad moods are more likely to make decisions that are self-serving in the present rather than the future, making riskier decisions than people in better moods.
In contrast, being in a good mood is associated with a variety of more positive behaviors. For example, people in positive moods are more inclined to help others. They are also more likely to respond to tasks and problems with more creative approaches than people who are in bad moods.
Mood exists as a response to the processing of internal and external affective stimuli. The study of mood draws the intellectual attention of a variety of social scientists. Correspondingly, research has revealed that mood influences both cognition and behavior. Moreover, there are both biological and neurobiological correlates of mood. In general, people in good moods evidence a variety of positive outcomes and behaviors relative to those who are in bad moods. Being in a good mood may come with some costs, however. Most centrally, people who are in good moods may be less likely than those who are in bad moods to critically process persuasive information.
SEE ALSO Attitudes; Emotion; Temperament
Cacioppo, John T., and Gary G. Bernston. 1994. Relationship between Attitudes and Evaluative Space: A Critical Review, with Emphasis on the Separability of Positive and Negative Substrates. Psychological Bulletin 115: 401-423.
Cacioppo, John T., Stephen L. Crites, and Wendi L. Gardner. 1996. Bioelectrical Echoes from Evaluative Categorizations: I. A Late Positive Brain Potential that Varies as a Function of Trait Negativity and Extremity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67: 115-125.
Clore, Gerald L., et al. 2000. Affective Feelings as Feedback: Some Cognitive Consequences. In Theories of Mood and Cognition, ed. Leonard L. Martin and Gerald L. Clore, 27-62. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Isen, Alice M. 1970. Success, Failure, Attention, and Reactions to Others: The Warm Glow of Success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1: 17-27.
Janis, Irving L., Donald Kaye, and Paul Kirschner. 1965. Facilitating Effects of “Eating While Reading” on Responsiveness to Persuasive Communications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 15: 294-301.
Leary, Mark R., et al. 1995. Self-Esteem as an Interpersonal Monitor: The Sociometer Hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 68: 518-530.
Leith, Karen P., and Roy F. Baumeister. Why Do Bad Moods Increase Self-Defeating Behavior? Emotion, Risk-Taking, and Self-Regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71: 1250-1267.
Petty, Richard E., and Daniel T. Wegener. 1998. Attitude Change: Multiple Roles for Persuasion Variables. In The Handbook of Social Psychology, ed. Daniel Gilbert, Susan Fiske, and Gardner Lindzey, 323-390. New York: McGraw Hill.
Russell, James A., and James M. Carroll. 1999. On the Bipolarity of Positive and Negative Affect. Psychological Bulletin 98: 219-235.
Watson, David, and Auke Tellegen. 1985. Toward a Consensual Structure of Mood. Psychological Bulletin 98: 219-235.
Jorgianne Civey Robinson
MOOD. Eating and drinking affect, sometimes markedly, people's moods. The interaction runs the other way, too, so that depressed, manic, or anxious states lower or sometimes heighten appetite, or a particular mood can affect food choices. The connections between food and mood have implications for advertisers of snack foods, for those seeking to lift their spirits through binge eating or drinking, and for gourmands planning successful dinners.
Alcohol can manipulate mood by affecting the release of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. The caffeine in coffee and other drinks is another stimulant whose overuse has detrimental health effects. Herbs have a range of medical effects, and some mushrooms are mind-altering. But while a variety of foods contain chemicals with known psychotropic properties, they are generally in such minuscule quantities as to have little discernible effect on human consumers.
More noticeable changes occur through a combination of cognitive, sensory, cultural, social, and environmental factors. For example, chocolate contains chemicals that alter mood, such as caffeine, theobromine, and phenylethylamine, in quantities too small to account for the cravings of so-called "chocoholics." Instead, people value chocolate's sweet taste and voluptuousness, because it melts just below body temperature, and so coats the tongue. The pleasurable sensations release chemicals, called opioid peptides, in the brain that lift mood. Chocolate has long been advertised as a luxury, and parents and others choose it to reward good behavior. All these uses reinforce chocolate's reputation as an "indulgence," "temptation," and even "sin."
Likewise, some acclaimed aphrodisiacs contain traces of chemicals that might stimulate sexual activity (suggestions include the zinc in oysters and a chemical related to the male hormone testosterone in truffles). But the pleasures associated with their consumption can be more striking than any actual chemical effect. One of these foods is extraordinarily slippery and the other headily aromatic. In addition, the seducer may offer them in a mood-inducing setting, such as a comfortable, candlelit room filled with "mood music."
Even the psychological response to alcohol is dependent on numerous factors, not the least of which are the experience and existing mood of the drinker, the setting, and the organoleptic or sense-stimulating properties of, perhaps, a fine wine. As such, the same drink can make people feel euphoric, merry, riotous, bored, or maudlin. Some researchers have found that high-carbohydrate foods reduce tension and cheer people up, while high fat foods have the opposite effect, but this theory is not supported by the English writer Charles Lamb's paean to pork crackling, "Dissertation on Roast Pig," published in the 1820s. With mock seriousness, Lamb attributes the discovery of cooking to the "oleaginous . . . ambrosian" deliciousness of pork fat.
An angry remark, an overlong gap between courses, a disturbing location, or the overdoing of food and drink can destroy the pleasant mood of a meal. But an enticing plate of food placed in front of a willing guest can be entrancing. An experienced waiter can guide indecisive diners, turning their entire evening around. The right foods, company, and circumstances cast a positive spell, whether of gaiety, carefreeness, reverie, or joy.
The New Testament refers often to "joy" (in Greek, charà ), frequently experienced at meals. A blissful state is encapsulated in many of the brief Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, written nearly one thousand years ago, and most famously in Edward FitzGerald's translation: "Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, / A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou."
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin analyzed the special mood attainable at the table in his gastronomical classic, The Physiology of Taste (published in 1826). Reporting on a lifetime of dinners, closely observed, he consistently suggests that a meal's greatness depends less on particular foods than on achieving an overall mood. His term, le plaisir de la table, has often been translated in the plural as the "pleasures of the table." However, the book's "Meditation 14" discusses a composite "table-pleasure" that one might call "mood." Table-pleasure is "the reflective sensation" (la sensation réfléchie ) generated by the thoughtful assembling of foods and people in an appropriate setting. This manifold pleasure of the table is known only to the human race and is largely independent of the drive for food, he writes.
While Brillat-Savarin precludes from table-pleasure ravishments, ecstasies, or transports, the experience, as he sees it, gains in duration what it loses in intensity. Physically, a diner's brain awakens, face grows animated, color heightens, eyes shine, and a "gentle warmth" creeps over the whole body. Morally, the diner's spirit grows more perceptive, the imagination flowers, and clever phrases fly from the lips. At the end of good meal, "body and soul both enjoy a special well-being" (p. 189). Table-pleasure is so powerful that "all human industry" has concentrated on increasing its intensity and duration, he writes. Stomachs may have had limits, but people could improve the accessories. So, they ornamented goblets and vases, ate under the open sky and in gardens and woods, invented the charms of music, and sprayed exquisite perfumes. Dancers, clowns, and other entertainers amused the eyes of diners. To all of these ancient gratifications, his recent contemporaries had contributed exquisite food, dishes so delicate that people would never get up from table if other business did not intrude.
Preferring simplicity to embellishment, Brillat-Savarin asked only four necessities—at least passable food, good wine, agreeable companions, and plenty of time (p. 191). Passing on a recipe for fondue, he recommends memorably: serve the fondue on a gently heated platter, call for the best wine, "and you will see miracles" (p. 417).
At odds with Brillat-Savarin's suggestion that the many elements of a meal generate a composite pleasure is a modern tendency to associate mood with particular foods, drinks, or diets. This view represents a somewhat "medical model" of dining rather than a convivial model, and some food scientists even speak of "functional foods," with druglike uses.
The food and drink industries implicitly market many products as improving mood. Alcoholic drink advertisements appeal to an elevated, "party" mood. The soft drink Coca-Cola is named after two traditional drugs, coca and cola, revealing its origins as an early proprietary "functional food" that still contains caffeine. Cereals manufacturer Kellogg has sold its Strawberry Pop-Tarts—pastries heated in a toaster and aimed at preteens—as a "mood food" by linking the snack to a social setting and a color suggestive of a particular mood (Brandweek [18 March 2002], p. 6). Television commercials showed girls and boys dancing, and the color red predominating, such as a red garland of lights and a girl in a red dress. The product also received placement in the television series Gilmore Girls, in which characters are depicted regularly eating Pop-Tarts for breakfast, suggesting that a single item can summon up a complex social setting.
Meanwhile, other researchers seek to understand why young women in particular crave and binge on sweet snacks in attempts to improve depressed moods. Many get into bulimic cycles of binge-eating and compensating, with accompanying mood swings.
Researchers led by Wesley C. Lynch found in a survey, contrary to expectations, binge eating did not lift depressed and anxious feelings but worsened them. However, moods did improve immediately before and after "compensatory activities," which included not just vomiting, but also fasting, exercise, and the use of laxatives and diuretics that did not decrease, but instead increased significantly following binge episodes and decreased immediately before and after compensatory activities" (Lynch et al., pp. 310–311). One possible interpretation of these findings is that binge eating is not the "problem" except as the prelude to self-punishing or ascetic behavior.
As the advertisers of "mood food" implicitly accept, the product does not act alone but within wider circumstances. A positive mood results most often from a satisfying meal, rich in social interactions. The aim might be to avoid solitary snacking in favor of Brillat-Savarin's nineteenth-century formula of honest viands, good company, and reduced time pressures.
See also Anorexia, Bulimia; Brillat-Savarin, Jean Anthelme; Coffee; Marketing of Food; Pleasure and Food; Presentation of Food; Sensation and the Senses.
Brillat-Savarin, Jean-Anthelme. The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations in Transcendental Gastronomy. Translated by M. F. K. Fisher. New York: Heritage Press, 1949. Originally published in Paris as La Physiologie du gout, 1826.
Lamb, Charles. "Dissertation on Roast Pig." In The Essays of Elia. 1st ser. London: Harrap, 1909. Collection originally published in 1823.
Lynch, Wesley C., et al. "Does Binge Eating Play a Role in the Self-regulation of Moods?" Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science 35, no. 4 (Oct.–Dec. 2000): 298–313.
mood1 / moōd/ • n. a temporary state of mind or feeling: he appeared to be in a very good mood about something. ∎ an angry, irritable, or sullen state of mind: he was obviously in a mood. ∎ the atmosphere or pervading tone of something, esp. a work of art: Monet's “Mornings on the Seine” series, with their hushed and delicate mood.• adj. (esp. of music) inducing or suggestive of a particular feeling or state of mind: mood music | a Chekhov mood piece.PHRASES: in the mood for (or to do) something feeling like doing or experiencing something: if you're in the mood for an extra thrill, you can go paragliding.in no mood for (or to do) something not wanting to do or experience something: she was in no mood for sightseeing.mood2 • n. 1. Gram. a category of verb use, typically expressing fact (indicative mood), command (imperative mood), question (interrogative mood), wish (optative mood), or conditionality (subjunctive mood). ∎ a form or set of forms of a verb in an inflected language such as French, Latin, or Greek, serving to indicate whether it expresses fact, command, wish, or conditionality.2. Logic any of the valid forms into which each of the figures of a categorical syllogism may occur.
Loosely defined and subjectively experienced general emotional condition.
A mood, while relatively pervasive, is typically neither highly intense nor sustained over an extended period of time. Examples of mood include happiness, sadness, contemplativeness, and irritability. The definitions of phrases to describe moods—such as good mood and bad mood—are imprecise. In addition, the range of what is regarded as a normal or appropriate mood varies considerably from individual to individual and from culture to culture.
Kuiken, Don, ed. Mood and Memory. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1991.
See also Affect; Emotion
Hence moody † brave, † proud OE.; † angry XII; subject to fits of ill humour, etc. XVI.