Study Finds a Good Mood Can Exaggerate Trust, Distrust

Traditionally, people probably expect that someone in a neutral or bad mood is less likely to trust others, and that a person exhibiting a positive mood is more likely to put their faith in others. The effects of mood on social interactions is an important line of inquiry within modern psychiatry, and in an attempt to bring a greater body of evidence to this area, a study at The Ohio State University which examined mood and perceptions of trustworthiness was recently concluded. The study involved a group of undergraduate students and a series of five experiments. In one experiment, each of the students were given a writing task. One task , in which the students wrote about a happy memory, was designed to produce a positive mood in participants, while the other task, involving a description of a typical day, was intended to encourage a neutral mood. Both tasks were shown as being effective in producing the respective moods in prior work.

After completing the tasks, students were shown a series of faces which were either popularly identified as being trustworthy or untrustworthy. Those students in a positive mood exhibited a pronounced trust in the people deemed trustworthy, yet also showed a more significant distrust of those faces designated as untrustworthy. The results, which suggest that an elevated mood may exaggerate tendencies to believe in the honesty and character of others, may have important implications for the business world, the study’s author notes. Also suggested in the work is the idea that when people are happy, they may be less motivated to critically examine their surroundings and other people, resulting in more pronounced and less moderated reactions to stimuli. As further work in the study of perception and mood is produced, understanding how emotions impact everyday life is bound to gain greater interest.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Brandi


    March 4th, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    ooohhh when I am in a bad mood the best thing to do is leave me alone!
    I don’t trust anyone or anything that they have to say because I always feel like they are just out to get me.
    Hey at least I realize this, right?



    March 5th, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    You are very right to say that this will have a lot of implications in the business world…we can expect to see many more busniess deals hapenning due to one party’s good understanding of these findings and making a good image of themselves for the other party first .

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