How Your Mood Affects The Way You Interpret Information

Our moods can color our entire day, influencing not only our emotions but also our cognitive processes.

As we navigate through life, our mood impacts how we understand and process information, particularly when it comes to the delicate balance between what we know from past experiences and what we learn from ongoing conversations or written text.

This balance is at the heart of a recent study published in Frontiers in Communication, which sheds new light on the impact of mood on discourse processing.

Discourse Processing and the Role of Mood

Discourse processing is a cognitive process that helps us make sense of written or spoken language. It involves integrating our world knowledge, understanding the context of the conversation, and drawing inferences from what we read or hear.

The study aimed to explore how different moods, both positive and negative, affect this complex process.

The researchers used film clips to induce either positive or negative moods in participants, then presented them with various sentences embedded within different discourse contexts. They monitored the participants’ brain activity via EEG to measure the impact of mood on discourse processing.

Negative Moods Can Amplify Disagreements

The study discovered that while our mood doesn’t change the way we access word meanings, it does influence how we make sense of information when there’s a disagreement between what we already know and what we’re currently reading or hearing.

When we’re in a negative mood, our brain works harder to understand information that conflicts with our existing knowledge. We might scrutinize and reevaluate the conflicting information more thoroughly when we’re feeling down or upset.

This can be both a positive and a negative thing.

On the plus side, it may help us think more critically and be more thorough in evaluating new information. However, it could also lead to overthinking or feeling overwhelmed when faced with conflicting ideas or information.

Bad moods might also lead to emotionally charged conflicts that make it difficult to find common ground, as the participants in the conversation overanalyze every littlest bit of disagreement.

Harnessing the Power of Mood for Better Communication

Effective communication is key to both personal and professional success.

We can learn to adapt our communication style to better accommodate the emotional state of ourselves and others.

For example, if we notice that someone we are communicating with is in a negative mood, we can make a conscious effort to be more clear and concise in conveying our message, anticipating that they may be more likely to scrutinize the details.

Similarly, being aware of our own mood can help us identify when we may need to seek clarification or additional information before drawing conclusions based on what we have read or heard.

And when you find yourself in a negative mood, be aware that you might be more sensitive to conflicts in information, so give yourself extra time to process these discrepancies.

By understanding the relationship between mood and information processing, we can become more effective communicators, better decision-makers, and more aware of how our emotions influence our perception of the world around us.