Reinterpreting Mood Induction Experiments


Oishi, S., Diener, E., & Cha, Y. (2022). Reinterpreting mood induction experiments. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1-11.


We discuss issues in interpreting the results from mood induction experiments. In most cases, only small absolute changes in moods were induced, even though the effect sizes that compare the difference from the baseline are quite large. The balance of positive to negative moods was usually positive regardless of the mood manipulation and the measure used, meaning that even in negative mood inductions, people are often in a slightly positive mood, albeit less positive than before. These findings help bring the experimental findings in line with studies of long-term mood, where mild positive moods are sometimes more strongly associated with beneficial outcomes than stronger positive moods. It is possible that some of the benefits attributed to negative moods based on the experimental studies are in fact benefits of lower levels of positive moods. Recommendations are made to strengthen the inferences drawn from mood induction experiments.

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