Mood (psychology)

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In psychology, mood is a form of pleasant or unpleasant feeling that forms the background to human experience. The mood depends, among other things, on the overall (biological) constitution of the individual and his or her mental state . There are also close relationships between drive and mood.

Outdated terms for describing moods are also terms such as mind or mood , mood . In modern psychology, however, there is hardly any talk of mood or mood.

Typical characteristics of moods:

  • longer lasting emotional state that resonates in the background
  • compared to lower intensity emotions
  • Object reference or trigger is not always necessarily recognizable
  • no clear end or beginning, rather diffuse
  • always afflicted with a positive or negative value


In the lexicon of psychology , mood is defined as follows: " Long-lasting emotional state, in which the quality of feeling and the predisposition to balance or fluctuations in this quality are distinguished."

In Meyer's Little Lexicon of Psychology , two terms are distinguished from mood:

  • In contrast to affect, a longer-lasting emotional state, which mixes action and above all experience with a certain emotional tone (...)
  • In behavioral research: willingness to have a certain behavior triggered by a corresponding key stimulus based on the internal drive position. In groups (...) this state of readiness can be increased by St.übertragung .

Moods differ from feelings , emotions and affects in that they are experienced as extended over time (mood stability), but are also subject to certain situation-related fluctuations. In the case of mental illness or arteriosclerosis of the brain, very strong unmotivated mood swings can occur. Moods play an important role in motivation . Experiences appear to be “colored” by moods: For example, when the mood is cloudy, the world appears “gray on gray”. They also describe an overall physical and mental state. In addition to being pleasant or uncomfortable, they can also have numerous different qualities, for example:

In psychology and medicine

Many activities in human life can be understood consciously or unconsciously as strategies to change moods (cf. emotional intelligence ); so does Daniel Goleman (in Emotional Intelligence , Eng. 1996): “Everything from reading a novel or watching television to the activities and joys we choose can be seen as an effort to achieve that we ourselves feel better."

Moods can also decisively initiate and influence learning processes. For this reason, teachers should ensure a pleasant or conducive mood in their endeavors, as far as they can. Experienced educators know what we are talking about. After all, conveying a sense of achievement (by the educator or with the help of the learning success itself) during and after learning processes is an important attempt to positively influence the mood that productively accompanies the learning process and thus optimizes it.

On the other hand, moods such as fear, sadness and those associated with dealing with personal problems can hinder learning processes. If such moods increase or if they get out of hand, learning processes are impaired. Planning for interactions in social situations can also be impaired. Interactions are then socially inappropriate and driven by unfavorable intentions. You act u. U. misplaced and ineffective. From such a point of view, willpower and ego power could play a role, an aspect of controlling and planning moods in connection with life and learning planning.

Extreme mood swings like those in bipolar disorder can indicate a mental illness . In psychiatry , moods can be successfully influenced by psychotherapy and psychotropic drugs. But physical illnesses can also have a decisive influence on the mood. B. the prospect of a cure or the severity of the disease.

In psychosomatics

According to Thure von Uexküll, the model of mood as the basic concept of psychosomatics relates to the subject , thus including psychological or physiological conditions, but is not unilaterally determined by these conditions. It thus presents itself as a third path alongside psychology and physiology. This model has proven to be particularly useful for understanding the supply diseases . Moods contribute significantly to the development of important, fixed or situation-dependent behaviors that are newly determined, and thus of psychologically conditioned and physiologically effective attitudes .

Thure von Uexküll (1908–2004) dealt with the biological side of moods. He came to the conviction that moods represent functional states in which an organism or a plurality of organisms is “attuned”, “attuned” or provided to a certain behavior . He also referred to the work of his father Jakob Johann von Uexküll (1864–1944). He had investigated coordination mechanisms in organisms that do not have a nervous system, such as sea ​​urchins or in associations of living things such as swarms of jackdaws . Applied to human conditions, Thure von Uexküll uses various case studies to show that moods are a prerequisite for the development of conscious motives for action. Where these energetic processes are not guaranteed, d. H. if there are substantial internal or external inhibitions , expressive diseases or dispositional diseases can develop.

In philosophy

A philosophical approach to the interpretation of moods or “mood” can be found in the thinking of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger , among other things in his main work Sein und Zeit (1927). Moods are subject to changing influences. A disharmonious disturbance of the emotional state or mood is called "upset". Heidegger also referred to this mood as a state of mind, see the introduction to this article.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b Christian Müller (Ed.): Lexicon of Psychiatry: Collected treatises of the most common psychopathological terms . Springer-Verlag, 1973. ISBN 978-3-642-96154-0 , p. 389 .
  2. E.g .: That gets on my mind , cf. the entry " on your mind " in Udo's lexicon for idioms, idiomatic expressions, fixed word combinations .
  3. Pschyrembel clinical dictionary, Verlag deGruyter, 267th edition 2017 ( ISBN 978-3-11-049497-6 ). ( Keyword mood, online )
  4. ^ Wilhelm Arnold , Hans Jürgen Eysenck , Richard Meili : Lexicon of Psychology, Herder Verlag, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 1972, 3 volumes; P. 471, vol. 3
  5. ^ A b c Eberle, Gerhard: Meyers Kleines Lexikon Psychologie . Bibliogr. Inst, Mannheim 1986, ISBN 3-411-02652-9 , pp. 368 .
  6. a b Uwe Henrik Peters : Dictionary of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology . Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich 3 1984; Lexicon-Stw. “Mood”, page 538
  7. a b Wilhelm Karl Arnold et al. (Ed.): Lexicon of Psychology . Bechtermünz, Augsburg 1996, ISBN 3-86047-508-8 ; Column 2221
  8. a b c d Thure von Uexküll : Basic questions of psychosomatic medicine. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek near Hamburg 1963; (a) to Stw. Motivation : page 195; (b) on the department of biology : chap. V. The wisdom of the body and its limits. Paragraph 6. Emotion, mood and provision, page 173 f .; (c) Re. Transfer of biological research results to human conditions : Chap. V. as above, para. 10 case studies , page 194; (d) Regarding the mood as a model , chap. V. as above, para. 11 Nosolog. Distinctions , page 195; Cape. VII. Psychosomatics and models of communications engineering , pages 244, 267, 270 f.
  9. ^ Annemarie and Reinhard Tausch: Educational Psychology , Hogrefe Verlag, Göttingen
  10. ^ DH Rost: Concise Dictionary Pedagogical Psychology , Beltz PVU publishing house, Weinheim. (See attention processes). See DH Rost: Social Learning.
  11. Georgi Schischkoff (Ed.): Philosophical dictionary. Alfred-Kröner, Stuttgart 14 1982, ISBN 3-520-01321-5 ; P. 669 - to Wb.-Lemma "Mood".