I feel the world. I don't just see it.
Updated: Nov 22, 2018
Influence of Affect on People
I perceive the world with not just my eyes, I experience it with the entirety of my current moods and feelings (affect). It has the tendency to override other significant factors and impact my outlook. The influence of affect is pervasive, ranging from thought processes and memory to decision making, problem solving and numerous other factors.
According to an innovative app based research study, 90% of the time individuals tend to experience at least one emotion, with positive emotions (joy, love and satisfaction) taking the lead followed by mixed emotions (anxiety and love), and lastly, negative emotions (anxiety, sadness and disgust).
This piece will briefly state three domains where our moods and feelings manipulate and shape our view of the world.
The emotions we feel have an effect on our ability to perform tasks involving logical reasoning skill. Being in a positive or negative mood reduces our performance in such tasks. To be specific, people who are happy tend to perform better than people who are unhappy, but people in a neutral mood outperform both the former sets of people. We may get more work done if we seem to not to be in an emotional (happy or sad) state.
When I was working in Bangalore, I eagerly awaited for my weekend trips to Chennai. I remember this excitement was difficult to contain and it hindered my focus and productivity, particularly on Fridays, hours before my train journey.
Observe this phenomenon at your workplace next time, to see if you are more productive whilst in a neutral or in a positive mood, and less productive when in a negative mood.
A study conducted on salespersons and supervisors states that positive mood (as a current state) is associated with prosocial behaviour. Employees who are in a good mood are more likely to engage in helpful behaviour, whether it is a part of their job responsibilities or not. This research also highlights that there is no significant relationship between positive trait (a person with positive characteristics by nature) and prosocial behaviour. This draws on the conclusion that positive mood (as a current state) is a significant determinant of prosocial behaviour.
If you look back, you can recall instances where you tipped a valet more than usual or took time off to help a colleague with a project, especially when you were in a good mood. Even if you are not a helpful person by nature, if you are in a good mood at that moment, it increases your tendency to help others.
Our impression and evaluation of others is formed not only through our senses and thought processes but are also influenced by our current moods and feelings. This process can take place without our conscious awareness too. What an individual is feeling in a moment is associated with and extended to faces of people, thereby impacting the perception of such people.
A research study found that visible faces with neutral expressions were associated with positive characteristics (pleasant, trustworthy, likeable, attractive, competent and warm) when it was accompanied by an unseen smiling face (suppressed and presented outside one’s awareness). Similarly, such visible neutral faces were associated with less positive characteristics when accompanied by an unseen angry face.
It can be observed that we associate feelings to people and objects, which are not directly derived from the people and object themselves. It calls for us to speculate on our judgements about people, and understand how rational and conscious they are. Paying attention to detail and gathering direct information about the people before us can help us form appropriate impressions.
Gaining insight about the influence of affect on us can help us be more aware of ourselves, and understand the reason behind our thoughts and actions in various situations.
Let’s keep in mind that our thought processes too, have an impact on our moods and feelings. There is “continuous constant interplay” between the two factors (which will be discussed in future articles).
Anderson, E., Siegal, E., White, D., & Barrett, L. F. (2012). Out of Sight but Not Out of Mind: Unseen Affective Faces Influence Evaluations and Social Impressions. Emotion,1210-1221. doi:10.1037/a0027514.
George, J. M. (1991). State or trait: Effects of positive mood on prosocial behaviors at work. Journal of Applied Psychology,76(2), 299-307. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.76.2.299
Jung, N., Wranke, C., Hamburger, K., & Knauff, M. (2014). How emotions affect logical reasoning: Evidence from experiments with mood-manipulated participants, spider phobics, and people with exam anxiety. Frontiers in Psychology,5. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00570
Trampe, D., Quoidbach, J., & Taquet, M. (2015). Emotions in Everyday Life. Plos One,10(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145450