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Mood induction procedures

Thursday, April 25th, 2013


As a teenager I spent hours in my room listening to arch-miserabilist pop band the Smiths.  I felt they really understood my teenage angst, and my love for them withstands even David Cameron’s unrepentant fandom and Morrissey’s regular and unsavory announcements.

We spend a lot of time and money trying to feel good, but there is also a pleasure in the melancholy that listening to every Smiths’ song played back to back can engender.  Alongside teenagers, researchers use various experimental methods for inducing mood states.  These are often used in studies which aim to investigate the correlation between mood and neurological function.


Self referential statements

One of the first mood induction procedures was the Velten Mood Induction Procedure.  Subjects read aloud self-referent statements, which progress from the relatively neutral to those associated with either a negative or positive mood.

Example of questions – this site suggests that the Velten mood induction procedure should be used as a form of “guided meditation”.



Music can arouse deep emotions in the listener.  The majority of studies use classical music, but a wide variety of musical pieces is used to experimentally induce mood states.  This paper (update 2018 – broken link) lists music used in forty-one music mood induction procedure studies.  The authors find that most musical pieces are used in one study only, but find twelve studies that use Delibes Coppélia to induce happy or elated moods.  No mention of the Smiths.

It’s probably best to ban your teenage children from listening to Stravinski’s Firebird suite.  Played at 80 dB, as one study used this to provoke anger.

Movie clips

Habitual cinema-blubbers will not be surprised that requesting participants to watch movie clips is a common way to manipulate moods experimentally.

In a 2008 study positive mood was induced by participants watching a 10 minute excerpt from a British comedy series (the actual series itself is not identified alas – Monty Python?). Neutral mood induction involved an excerpt from a nature documentary, and negative mood was brought about by an excerpt from a film about dying from cancer.

According the many authors film and music based mood induction is the most effective.


Critical feedback.

Another technique is to use verbal feedback. This 2008 (update 2018 – broken link) study asked participants to complete a series of anagrams and then report their answers through an intercom system. To induce a negative mood state they received insults in return.

After the 4th anagram, the experimenter said: “Look, I can barely hear you. I need you to speak louder please.” After the 8th anagram, the experimenter said in a louder and more frustrated voice: “Hey, I still need you to speak louder.” After the 12th anagram, the experimenter said in a very frustrated voice: “Look, this is the third time I’ve had to say this! Can’t you follow directions? Speak louder!

Forming mental images/autobiographical recall.

This approach can use emotionally charged sentences, with subjects asked to try and experience the affective state they would feel if the situation were real.

“Imagine that you just won the lottery and you will have all the money you could ever want” (paper) (update 2018 – broken link)

(These lottery winners are in the lucky situation of not having to use their imagination).

In a similar approach (update 2018 – broken link) participants were instructed to write a short essay about an event they experienced that provoked specific feelings such as anger or sadness.

Combining methods and effectiveness

The most effective mood induction procedures may combine two procedures in the belief that multiple interactions contribute additively to mood.   One type of induction occupies the foreground attention, whilst the other forms the background atmosphere.  So, for example the Velten mood induction procedure has been combined with music mood induction.

The effectiveness of mood induction procedures is questioned by some authors, who dispute whether they can produce moods of sufficient intensity.  Another debate concerns whether the results of experiments using mood induction result from the expectations that the protocol induces in participants, rather than because of the induced mood per se (demand characteristics).

Sponsored by Inexika, creator of iMoodJournal – mood tracking application for iPhone and Android

Photo credit


17 June 2018 reviewed – some of the links to papers are broken – sorry.

Bupa partners with Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk 2011

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Bupa partners with Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk 2011


Facebook competition – win comprehensive health check worth £150

Bupa Care Services is excited to be working in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society on their flagship fundraising event, Memory Walk 2011.

During September, thousands of people will participate in walks across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society’s and help to improve public understanding of dementia.

By taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk friends and families will be joining together to remember and celebrate loved ones. They will benefit from being together and sharing memories as well as uniting to fight against dementia.

Bupa is committed to providing specialist dementia care under an ethos of ‘Person First, Dementia Second’, training its people to focus on the individual needs of people living with dementia. The aim is to create a unique approach to care so people can enjoy as much independence and mental and physical stimulation as possible.

This person-centred approach allows carers use memories to connect with people who are living with dementia – using memory boxes, life story books and Bupa’s own Map of Life to help recall life’s meaningful moments.

How you can help Bupa raise awareness of the key issues of dementia

Bupa recognises the importance of emotional wellbeing in relation to health and the positive impact that the emotional interaction of sharing memories with loved ones can have on people living with dementia.

Encouraging people whose lives have been touched by dementia to talk to each other and share memories can have a significant impact on their emotional wellbeing. This is particularly important in decreasing the proportion of people who are likely to develop memory impairment in the future.

Bupa are initiating a campaign to get people actively involved in Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk 2011 under the banner of ‘what memories mean to you’. By inviting people to engage with how memories can significantly impact the lives of those living with dementia, you can help raise awareness of a condition which is due to affect more than a million people by 2021.

You can sign up free for the walks and a there’s also a Facebook competition to win one of five free comprehensive health checks worth £150 each.

Bupa would like to invite readers of to get involved with this fantastic cause by signing up for the walks and visiting the Bupa memories Facebook page to tell us exactly what memories mean to you.

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