Bad Moods Negatively Affect Our Perceptions Of People, Study Finds

**This article has been corrected and rewritten after facts presented in a previous version were proven to be false.**

While I like to consider myself a pretty level-headed person, I’d be lying if I said that I don’t have a bad attitude sometimes and see the glass as half-empty rather than half-full. I’d really like to change that, however, especially since a new study has proven that the more positive your attitude, the more you focus on the good in people.

  1. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Research published by scientists from the University of New South Wales and Stanford University wanted to prove a correlation between mood and perception. In other words, does how you’re feeling on a given day/your overall attitude affect how you see people and recall them later? Turns out, it totally does.
  2. The testing was rigorous. While optimistic people tend to go through life seeing the silver lining, the same was seen in this study. The 52 participants (24 men and 28 women) were put through a “mood manipulation” round and given feedback by researchers, who told them they’d done either well or badly on the “test.” This is a proven technique to manipulate a person’s “mood stage” which is said to have remained stable for the remainder of the study.
  3. The more positive you are, the more likely you are to recall things in a positive light. The crux of the experiment relied on giving the participants a list of “realistic person descriptions” including positive and negative details. They were then quizzed to see what they remembered about the people described and funny enough, the people who were in a good mood remembered more positive qualities than those who were in bad moods. In fact, as an abstract read, “Overall, happy subjects formed more favorable impressions and made more positive judgments than did sad subjects.”
  4. Negative people focus on the negative. Admittedly, I’ve seen this in action in my own life. When I’m in a terrible mood, I tend to feel like absolutely everything is wrong and awful. The study results showed just how common this is, with the negative-mood participants recalling way more of the negative qualities they were told about than the positive ones.
  5. Sometimes you have to fake it ’til you make it. While it can be hard to be positive, it can also help us long-term. After all, if we’re more likely to focus on the good stuff when we see the glass as half-full, it could just make the tough stuff in life much easier to navigate. It’s worth a try, right?
Piper Ryan is a NYC-based writer and matchmaker who works to bring millennials who are sick of dating apps and the bar scene together in an organic and efficient way. To date, she's paired up more than 120 couples, many of whom have gone on to get married. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Cut, and many more.

In addition to runnnig her own business, Piper is passionate about charity work, advocating for vulnerable women and children in her local area and across the country. She is currently working on her first book, a non-fiction collection of stories focusing on female empowerment.