Mood vs affect

Psychology of the human being is complex network of mental and emotional experiences which determine the way in which a person feels, his mood and the affect of that mood. Mood and affect are terms that are very closely related but mean very different things. They go hand in hand when trying to determine the individual’s state of mind or altered state of mind.

Let’s discuss the psychological definitions of these two terms in order to understand the relationship that exists between them.

Positive and negative moods

Psychology defines the term mood as a person’s emotional state. Moods are considered to superficial in nature, and don’t usually cause any reaction or stimulus. They are quite broad in nature. One thing that is simple to identify about moods are that they are either positive or negative in nature and an individual may even describe their mood as good or bad.

A person’s mood can be long lasting. Often a good analogy to use to describe a person’s mood is the weather where sunny days represent good moods and dull days represent dull, sad moods.

A mood is unique if compared to temperament or a person’s personality, however it can be affected by the individual’s confidence levels, optimism or whether they have underlying neurological disorder. Mood that last for long periods of time indicate that there could be a mental disorder like clinical depression or a bipolar disorder.

Even though moods are an internal feeling, a person’s body language can reveal a lot about their internal emotional or mental state. People show excitement instantaneously if something makes them happy but a person with an altered state may not be able to, in fact the same situation could trigger a different mood and may be means of anxiety for the person.

Because moods are distinguished by either positive or negative they can impact the overall wellbeing of a person. Many studies have advised that positivity can impact creativity and problem solving which allow the mind to imaginative, articulate and enables free thinking. Negative moods have an adverse effect and can result is poor decision making and repetitive socially unhealthy relationships.




Affect refers to the way an individual’s emotion or state of mind manifest in an obvious behavioural change such as, a change in facial expressions, demeanour or gestures.

Sadness, anger and jubilation are examples of affect. One widely accepted definition is that affect is reaction to stimuli based on an instinctive reaction. This definition thus suggests that affect is a primary response and is a basic reaction of all human beings. There are also suggestions that affect is a combination of cognitive thoughts and activities however most experts on the topic lean on the premise that affect is impulsive and intuitive.

So what is the fundamental difference?

Psychologically as discussed in a person’s emotional state whereas mood refers to the expression or manifestation of those emotions. This means that mood a state that is ffective’.

On the contrary, affects are brought about as a result of intense feelings brought on by random stimuli or events in the person life. Moods are long lasting as opposed to affect which is usually and instinctive reaction. You often hear people saying, “I found it hard to read them”, this is because moods are difficult to gauge whereas affect is always apparent and openly visible.

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