Skip to main content

Effects of positive and negative moods on helping tasks having pleasant or unpleasant consequences


A field study investigated the effects of positive and negative moods on subjects' willingness to perform helping tasks having pleasant or unpleasant consequences. Results indicated that procedures designed to induce either positive or negative moods facilitate helping when the task has pleasant consequences, but tend to inhibit helping when the task is likely to be unpleasant. The findings are consistent with the notion that many everyday acts of kindness (altruism) are interpretable as a form of hedonism. The implications of these outcomes for an activation model of mood-induced altruism are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Aderman, D. Elation, depression, and helping behavior.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1972,24 91–101.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Aronfreed, J. The socialization of altruistic and sympathetic behavior: Some theoretical and experimental analyses. In J. Macaulay & L. Berkowitz (Eds.),Altruism and helping behavior. New York: Academic Press, 1970.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bateson, C. D., Coke, J., Chard, F., Smith, D., & Taliaferro, A. Generality of the “glow of goodwill”: Effects of mood on helping and information acquisition.Social Psychology Quarterly 1979,42 176–179.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cialdini, R. B., Darby, B. L., & Vincent, J. E. Transgression and altruism: A case for hedonism.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 1973,9 502–516.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cialdini, R. B., & Kenrick, D. T. Altruism as hedonism: A social development perspective on the relationship of negative mood state and helping.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1976,34 907–914.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Isen, A. M. Success, failure, attention and reaction to others: The warm glow of success.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1970,15 294–301.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Isen, A. M., & Simmonds, S. F. The effect of feeling good on a helping task that is incompatible with good mood.Social Psychology Quarterly 1978,41 346–349.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Velten, E. A laboratory task for the induction of mood states.Behaviour Research and Therapy 1968,6 473–482.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to David R. Shaffer.

Additional information

We wish to thank Marilyn Green, Leslie Hill, Vernessa Washington, and Annette Yancy for their assistance in collecting the data.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shaffer, D.R., Graziano, W.G. Effects of positive and negative moods on helping tasks having pleasant or unpleasant consequences. Motiv Emot 7, 269–278 (1983).

Download citation


  • Social Psychology
  • Field Study
  • Activation Model
  • Negative Mood
  • Unpleasant Consequence