Public Release: 

The effects of mood and emotional state on decision making

The Journal of Behavioral Decision Making: Special Issue


  • Now That I Think About It, I'm In the Mood for Laughs: Decisions Focused on Mood
  • The Dampening Effect of Uncertainty on Positive and Negative Emotions
  • Portrait of the Angry Decision Maker: How Appraisal Tendencies Shape Anger's Influence on Cognition

News from the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

Wiley InterScience releases a special issue of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, examining the impacts of mood and emotional states on decision making in a range of circumstances.

As well as the articles titled above, the special issue includes a pair of articles that look at a subject with serious public health implications: the factors influencing individual risk-taking behaviour: in particular the likelihood of individuals' decision to have unprotected sex.

The articles featured in this special issue expose the different implications a range of emotional states can have on types of decision making and outcomes with relevance across:

  • Business and work place environments
  • Social and sexual behaviours
  • Economic and financial situations

The research also reveals how conditional individual choices are upon the individual's mood at any given time.

Articles highlighted in this NewsAlert:

Eugene M. Caruso and Eldar Shafir: "Now That I Think About It, I'm In the Mood for Laughs: Decisions Focused on Mood"

In this article, four studies examine the impact that thinking about mood can have on people's choices. In Study 1, participants who were asked to suppose they were in good, bad, or neutral moods were more likely to choose a silly comedic movie over an otherwise more attractive drama, compared to others who had not thought about mood. Similar patterns were observed when people thought about how they felt before making a hypothetical choice (Study 2) or an actual choice (Study 3). In Study 4, participants who pursued mood-relevant information chose to see a comedic play more often than those who had not focused on such information. Thinking about their own mood appears to increase decision makers' concern with the pleasurable consequences of decisions, thereby promoting mood regulatory activities and altering preference, possibly in favor of less optimal outcomes.

Terry Connolly and David Butler: "Regret in Economic and Psychological Theories of Choice"

Numerous studies have shown that choice can be influenced by expectations of regret or disappointment (or, for positive outcomes, of rejoicing or elation). Psychological researchers measure these expectations with self-report instruments, economists infer them from observed choice behavior. The present study examines whether the emotion embodied in economic choice models correspond to expected and experienced emotions as measured by self-report. In a laboratory study of student participants playing real-money lotteries, we included questionnaire measures of expected emotions for each possible lottery outcome.

Jennifer S. Lerner and Larissa Z. Tiedens, "Portrait of the Angry Decision Maker: How Appraisal Tendencies Shape Anger's Influence on Cognition"

Lerner and Tiedens review the impact of anger on judgment and decision making. They ask whether anger merits special attention in the study of judgment and decision making because the effects of anger often diverge from those of other negative emotions. Identifying a route to predictive outcomes they question of whether anger should be considered a positive emotion. It also proposes the hypothesis that anger will be experienced as relatively unpleasant and unrewarding when reflecting back on the source of one's anger but experienced as relatively pleasant and rewarding when looking forward. The aritcle synthesizes the evidence into a new portrait of the angry decision maker.

Peter H. Ditto, David A. Pizarro, Eden B. Epstein, Jill A. Jacobson, and Tara K. MacDonald, "Visceral Influences on Risk Taking Behavior"

Visceral cues indicating proximity to objects of desire can lead people to be disproportionately influenced by the anticipated rewards of immediate gratification rather than the risks of their behavior. Two studies examined this hypothesis. In Study 1, participants were given the choice of playing a game in which they risked time in the lab to win chocolate chip cookies. Participants who could see and smell the cookies while they made their decision were less sensitive to risk information than were participants for whom the cookies were merely described. In Study 2, male condom users either saw a video or read a description depicting a young couple deciding whether to have sex without a condom. Participants seeing the video expressed a greater likelihood of having unprotected sex in the situation than did participants reading the description. The underappreciated role of visceral factors in social cognition theory and research is discussed.

Ilana Ritov: "The Effect of Time on Pleasure with Chosen Outcomes" Abstract:

Emotional reactions, such as regret and disappointment, are associated with the comparison of an obtained outcome with what might have been. Past research revealed that these comparisons affect one's pleasure with the outcome, at least in the short term. However, whether such effects are transient or long lasting is unknown. The present research explores the time course, by eliciting ratings of pleasure with a specific real choice at two points in time. In three experimental studies, pleasure with a small gift immediately following the gift's selection was compared to pleasure with the gift 4 to 8 weeks later. The results indicate that satisfaction with a chosen outcome, unlike satisfaction with a randomly assigned one, decreases in the long term.

Dan Ariely and George Loewenstein: "The Heat of the Moment: The Effect of Sexual Arousal on Sexual Decision Making"

Despite the social importance of decisions taken in the 'heat of the moment', very little research has examined the effect of sexual arousal on judgment and decision making. Here we examine the effect of sexual aroural on judgments and hypothetical decisions made by male college students. The results show that sexual arousal had a strong impact on all three areas of judgment and decision making, demonstrating the importance of situational forces on preferences, as well as subjects' inability to predict these influences on their own behavior.

Eric van Dijk and Marcel Zeelenberg: "The Dampening Effect of Uncertainty on Positive and Negative Emotions"

Van Dijk & Zeelenberg investigate how uncertainty about outcomes affects feelings with respect to these outcomes. The results of two experimental studies suggest that uncertainty about positive outcomes (Experiment 1) and negative outcomes (Experiment 2) leads to a dampening of emotions that are felt in response to these outcomes.


To receive a full copy of the reviews highlighted in this newsalert, or to arrange an interview with an author, contact Polly Young (+44 (0)1243 770633 or by email

Notes to Editors:

1.The Journal of Behavioral Decision Making is a multidisciplinary journal with a broad base of content and style. The objective of the Journal is to present and stimulate behavioral research on decision making and to provide a forum for the evaluation of complementary, contrasting and conflicting perspectives. These perspectives include psychology, management science, sociology, political science and economics. The Journal of Behavioral Decision Making can be accessed at:

2.John Wiley & Sons Ltd., with its headquarters in Chichester, England, is the largest subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., provides must-have content and services to customers worldwide. Its core businesses include scientific, technical, and medical journals, encyclopaedias, books, and online products and services; professional and consumer books and subscription services; and educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley has publishing, marketing, and distribution centres in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb. Wiley's Internet site can be accessed at

Please contact Polly Young at John Wiley on +44 1243 770633 or for the full article or to request an interview with the authors of the study.

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