Effects of induced mood on causal attributions for success and failure

Abstract

The present research examined the influence of induced mood on causal perception and goal expectancies for an achievement-oriented activity. Prior to the administration of a laboratory task, positive and negative moods were experimentally induced in student volunteers. It was found that elated subjects were initially more confident of success than subjects temporarily made to feel depressed. Furthermore, following the receipt of bogus success/failure feedback, individuals in a positive mood perceived the causes of success as more stable than subjects in a negative mood. In addition, the judgments of elated subjects appear to have been biased in a self-enhancing direction following success, but outcome had no effect on the causal attributions of subjects temporarily induced to feel depressed. The findings indicate that prevailing affective state is an important determinant of causal perception, and suggest that mood may play a central role in the accurate or biased perception of valenced outcomes.

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Correspondence to Jonathon Brown.

Additional information

The research reported in this article was supported by a Chancellor's Fellowship from UCLA to the author and by Grant #MH38014 to Bernard Weiner from the Public Health Service. I am grateful to Sandra Graham and Bernard Weiner for their many helpful suggestions, and to Anne Peplau and an anonymous reviewer for their perceptive comments on an earlier version of this paper. Appreciation is also expressed to the staff at the Center for Computer Based Research, UCLA, Gerald Shure, Director.

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Brown, J. Effects of induced mood on causal attributions for success and failure. Motiv Emot 8, 343–353 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00991872

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Important Determinant
  • Affective State
  • Negative Mood
  • Positive Mood