Mood Congruency Effect: Definition & Examples

Mood Congruency Effect: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:01 What Is the Mood…
  • 0:32 Dependence on Diagnosis
  • 1:02 Example of Mood…
  • 2:13 How the Mood…
  • 3:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michelle Blessing

Michelle is a corrections therapist at a state prison. She has also taught classes at community college. She holds a Master's degree in Psychology and a Bachelor's degree in Sociology.

Have you ever wondered why you remember certain things that seem to coincide with how you are feeling? This lesson will explain how the mood congruency effect influences your memory and other parts of your day-to-day life.

What Is the Mood Congruency Effect?

The mood congruency effect is a psychological phenomenon in which a person tends to remember information that is consistent with their particular mood. People also tend to recall memories that coincide with the mood they are experiencing at a certain time. In simpler terms, if you're in a happy mood, you are more likely to recall happy memories, whereas, if you're sad, you are more likely to remember sad and depressing events. Or, if you are angry when you are learning, you are less likely to remember the positive concepts, but you are more likely to focus on the negative ideas.

Dependence on Diagnosis

Another way to describe the mood congruency effect is in terms of the psychiatric symptoms a person displays - if those symptoms are compatible with the person's diagnosis, they are mood congruent. For example, if a person is diagnosed as clinically depressed, you would expect him to be sad and crying, since those symptoms are congruent with a depressed state. People diagnosed with bipolar mania might be loud, hyper, and distracted; again, these symptoms are congruent with that diagnosis.

Example of Mood Congruency Effect

Let's take a look at how the mood congruency effect works in real life. In this example, you and a friend are going to the movies together to see the latest blockbuster hit, a film about a man who loses the love of his life only to find that same woman 20 years later. The man and woman reconnect and marry in the end, but throughout the movie, the trials and tribulations they experience are documented. Now, let's set the stage a bit further. You just got out of a 5-year relationship, so you are a bit sour on the whole idea of love. Your friend, however, just met a remarkable new guy she can't stop gushing about. Will this affect what you both choose to focus on and remember from the movie? You bet it will!

Since you are currently down on the notion of love, you tend to focus your energy (and memory) on the tribulations - how the couple lost each other and how long it took them to reconnect. However, your friend focuses on the love between the couple and how sweet it was that they found each other in the end. And later, when someone asks you to discuss the movie, you will be more likely to give it a negative rating, but your friend will probably give it five stars. This is because your mood at the time of the movie was sad - which is then congruent with your recall of it.

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