Schwarz, N. & Clore, G. L., Mood, Misattribution, and Judgements
of Well-Being: Informative and Directive Functions of Affective States.
The researchers found in this study that people's judgements of
happiness and satisfaction can be influenced by their mood (either weather
related or by induced methods). However, they could eliminate negative
feelings by having the subjects misattribute the cause of their mood to
another source. Subjects with good feelings were affected by the misattributions.
Previous studies have showed that people used their current moods to make
judgements, and moods can direct one's attention to the causes for those
When thinking sad thoughts, it may bring up other sad memories, causing
people to overestimate their frequency in their lives.
However, it seems that the default state is "happy" and people
don't look for reasons as to why they are happy.
In experiment one they set up various conditions of mood-inducing and misattribution:
1. Positve and Negative events; some were asked to describe a positive
life event, others a negative event, and a control group that weren't asked
2. Tense or Elated Soundproof room: Some were told the soundproof room
would make them feel elated, some make them feel tense, and one group received
no misattribution. The control group didn't use the soundproof room at
Each participant completed a questionnaire in which questions about happiness
and life satisfaction (buried in a bogus study) were asked.
Recounting a positve or negative event clearly had an impact on happiness
and satisfaction scores.
Also, the level of effect the negative feelings had was dependent on whether
they were told the room would make them tense, elated, or told nothing.
People who were told the room would make them tense attributed negative
feelings to the room and thus rated happiness higher than the other two
groups. This effect was not see with the positive-induced groups.
The second experiment was in more of a natural setting. They conducted
phone interviews in a 2x3 experiment with the following conditions:
1. Sunny vs Rainy Day
2. Indirect priming: The subjects were asked "Hows the weather there"
before asking happiness questions.
3. Direct priming: The subjects were told the study was to measure the effects
of weather on mood.
4. No-priming: No weather questions were asked.
Clearly, people felt happier on sunny days than rainy days. Again, the
priming conditions improved happiness on rainy days (by misattribution)
but had no effect on sunny days.
"Persons appear to seek personally irrelevant explanations for an unpleasant
mood state when such explanations are available"
People seek explanations for unpleasant moods because they feel they are
deviations from their more normal positive mood.