A mood is a relatively long lasting emotional state. Moods differ from simple emotions in that they are less specific, less intense, and less likely to be triggered by a particular stimulus or event.
Moods generally have either a positive or negative valence. In other words, people typically speak of being in a good mood or a bad mood. Unlike acute, emotional feelings like fear and surprise, moods often last for hours or days.
Mood also differs from temperament or personality traits which are even longer lasting. Nevertheless, personality traits such as optimism and neuroticism predispose certain types of moods. Long term disturbances of mood such as depression and bipolar disorder are considered mood disorders. Mood is an internal, subjective state, but it often can be inferred from posture and other behaviors.
Etymologically, mood derives from the Old English mōd which denoted military courage, but could also refer to a person's humour, temper, or disposition at a particular time. The cognate Gothic mōds translates to both θυμός "mood, spiritedness" and οργή "anger". According to psychologist Robert Thayer, mood is a product of two dimensions: energy and tension. A person can be energetic or tired while also being tense or calm. According to Thayer, people feel best when they are in a calm-energy mood. They feel worse when in a tense-tired state. People often use food to regulate mood. Thayer identifies a fundamental food-mood connection , and advises against the reliance on food as a mood regulator. The low energy arousal coupled with tension, as experienced in a bad mood, can be counteracted by walking. Thayer suggests walking as a means to enhanced happiness.
A recent meta-analysis found that, contrary to the stereotype of the suffering artist, creativity is enhanced most by positive moods that are activating and associated with approach motivation (e.g. happiness), rather than those that are deactivating and associated with avoidance motivation (e.g. relaxation). Negative, deactivating moods with an approach motivation (e.g. sadness) were not associated with creativity, but negative, activating moods with avoidance motivation (e.g. fear, anxiety) were associated with lower levels of creativity.
- Thayer, Robert E. (1989). The biopsychology of mood and arousal. New Yok, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Thayer, Robert E. (1996). The origin of everyday moods: Managing energy, tension and stress. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Thayer, Robert E. (2001). Calm Energy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Baas, M., De Dreu, C., & Nijstad, B. (2008). A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood-creativity research: Hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus? Psychological Bulletin, 134, 779-806.