Difference Between Mood and Affect

When you study the different mental health-related issues of human beings, the two terms that come into okay are mood and affect.


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It is quite easy to interchange, and it isn’t easy to understand these two terms as most people think they are the same thing.

Though they go hand in hand, they are still different terms. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Mood and affect are two terms used in psychology to describe emotional states.
  2. Mood refers to a sustained emotional state that colors a person’s perceptions and behavior. In contrast, affect refers to the visible expression of emotion through facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.
  3. While the mood is typically longer-lasting and less variable than affect, both are important indicators of a person’s emotional state and can be useful in diagnosing mental health disorders.

Mood vs Affect

A mood is a persistent emotional state that influences their world perspective. Conversely, affect is the immediate emotional response shown by facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.

Mood vs Affect

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMood Affect
ImpactsA mood might be positive or negative, leading you to do different things.Affect can be psychological or physiological and make you do things accordingly.
ResultMoods can make you change your behaviour or nature.Affect normally results in a mood.
Time-periodIt is usually a long-term kind of occurrence. It takes place for a short time.
CauseThe mood is something that might not have a specific reason behind it. It is generally caused by a particular something.
ExamplesA person can be in different moods. Happy or sad moods are common examples.Euphoria, anger, and sadness are some commonly found examples of the effect.

What is Mood? 

In psychology, the mood is termed as the emotional state of a particular person. You might get the idea about the superficial nature of moods.

There is no specific cause for moods. It is hard to predict what is causing a change in moods. 

They have a deep impact on people’s life. You might have often heard people complaining that they are in a good or bad mood.

A mood can change a person’s way of thinking or behaving. 

A good mood can make people happy and leave a positive impact in his/her life. Usually, happy people work more diligently and are often successful in doing things gracefully.

On the other hand, a bad mood can hamper people’s life and make them change their behaviour. 

Moods can last longer. Depending on the personality of someone, moods can be rather long-term. If it continues for a long time- it can even lead to certain psychological problems.

Bipolar disorders and depressions are some of examples of what a bad mood for a long time can do. 

In Psychology, ‘affect’ mainly tells about the mood. You can say that it describes the mood in a way. 


What is Affect?

 We mainly use the word ‘affect’ like a verb in English. We use it to say ‘affects something’. 

But, you could say that the experience of going through various emotions in a person is known as affect. Any emotional state that is observable by other persons is known as affect.

Changes in facial expressions and gestures can cause other people to tell the affect. 

Affect is quite a debatable topic, and people are still arguing about its different causes and effects. People still talk about the different physiological or psychological impacts affect can have on a particular individual. 

Some experts like to think this is automatic and does not require any cognitive functions. Others claim that it is not fully automatic and still requires some level of cognitive function, making it a post-cognitive function. However, most of the experts tend to agree on the fact that affect is something spontaneous.

It does require a certain stimulus or specific reason to occur, unlike that mood. We are quite well aware of its causes. It is short-lived, unlike that of mood. You can also get an instant reaction out of affect. It does not take a long time like that of mood!


Main Differences Between Mood and Affect

  1. ‘Affect’ covers a wide range of things in psychology. It can even cover emotions as well as moods. This term is something that represents all of the people’s feelings. On the other hand, a certain state of mind that occurs due to affect is termed a mood in human beings. 
  2. A vital point of difference between the two terms is that affect is something that can be caused rather quickly. Anything- even slight stimuli can cause this affect, according to psychology. But, in the case of mood, it usually occurs as a result of prolonged affect.
  3. Affect is rather short-term. But, it results in a change of mood which can last quite a long time. It also depends mainly on the person’s characteristics and personality and how long these moods can last. They are long-termed as compared to affect. 
  4. Affect always has a cause. No matter how short-term or small an inconvenience it is- affect always tends to have a specific cause. On the other hand, you can never predict the cause of a mood. It does not seem that there is any particular reason or cause. Anything can cause a mood. 
  5. The initial response to any feeling in man is termed affect in psychology. However, a debate exists on how affect needs a cognitive function to perform. But, some people think this is post-cognitive. A mood can be positive or negative depending on the human’s emotions. Positive and negative moods impact human lives and functions in their very own way. 
Difference Between Mood and Affect
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_18
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