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What Is Mood? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition of Mood
  • 0:36 Relationship of Affect…
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Mood refers to a generalized state of feeling. In this lesson, learn about mood, how it differs from affect and emotion, examples of the different types of moods, and more.

Definition of Mood

Mood is a generalized, internal state of feeling. It is closely related to the concepts of affect and emotion.

Imagine that you are meeting up with your friend Jane to watch television and hang out at her house. You notice that Jane has been crying and seems depressed. You ask Jane how she is doing, which causes her to become hostile. She yells at you for implying that something is wrong with her, but she calms down after you apologize. Jane tells you that she has been feeling sad all week. What Jane has just described to you is her mood.

Relationship of Affect and Emotion

We mentioned that mood is closely related to the concepts of affect and emotion. What do we mean by that?

Emotions are intense feelings that are directed at specific objects or situations, while mood is a state of feeling that is less intense than emotions and more generalized. For instance, when a person is mad (emotion), they are usually mad at specific things; however, when a person is feeling anxious (mood), they may be anxious throughout the day no matter what the circumstances.

Affect is your outward expression of emotions and mood. It refers to how others think you feel as evidenced by your behaviors, like crying or laughing. On the other hand, mood is how you actually feel and is internal. A person's affect is not always congruent with their mood. A person can tell you that they are sad but express themselves in ways that do not show sadness, like laughing or smiling. Note that when people speak of moods, they tend to categorize them as either a good or bad mood.

Because mood is an internal, cognitive process, you cannot express it in the same way you do with emotions. Emotion has an outward target, whereas mood does not. For example, if Jane were upset with you, you could easily express and direct her anger towards you specifically. However, there is no direct object to express mood. Emotions usually have a shorter duration than moods and are more specific. For example, if someone punches you, it may cause you to have an intense feeling of anger that would last for a few seconds. However, being punched can put you in a bad mood, which can last for most of the day.

Emotions are created as a reaction to specific events or situations. Moods are not always a response to anything specific and can, at times, appear random.

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