Mood seems to play little or no role in our memory, says a new study.
Suppose you consumed a well cooked meal in a restaurant last week. Your mood could have been good or bad, depending on whether it was a sunny or rainy day.
Then a week later, would you be more likely to praise the restaurant or revisit it, if you had been there on a sunny day?
Study authors Anastasiya Pocheptsova and Nathan Novemsky from Yale and Maryland University, respectively, found that 'incidental mood' is usually not incorporated into memory-based judgements made after the feeling has passed.
In other words, your memory of the food won't be affected by the mood you were in when you ate it. However, this changes if the mood effects are "locked in" -- for example, if you respond to a question about how much you are enjoying the meal.
In one study, they examined the effect of participants' moods on their evaluations of a painting.
A negative mood was induced in some participants by having them read a story and answer questions about inhumane treatment of pregnant horses. Then half of the participants were asked to provide "real-time evaluations" of the painting while others just went home.
Five days later, all participants were contacted via e-mail and asked to rate how much they would enjoy having a poster of the painting in their homes.
Participants in a negative mood rated the painting lower in real time, and participants who did not make a real-time evaluation showed no effect of mood at the later time.
"To summarize, going to a restaurant on a rainy day would only affect one's decision to visit it next time if one made a real-time evaluation of the meal," wrote the study authors.
These findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.