Difference Between Affect and Mood

Affect vs Mood

Affect is experiencing an emotion or a feeling. It is crucial for responding to the external environment. When someone responds to an external stimulus it is referred to as “affect display”. Mood is an emotional state of mind and is always expressed through body language, postures, and gestures.


Affect as mentioned in the introduction is an “experience of feeling”. According to psychology, there are many debates about the definition of affect. The most popular argument is that affect is what occurs instinctually in our minds when we respond to stimuli. This theory says affect occur without any cognitive process. If this is the case, when it comes to humans affect is a primary reaction but for animals and other organisms the most powerful one. One argument says that affect is “post-cognitive” and hence involve some thinking process. Some argue that it can be the both, at times pre-cognitive and sometimes post-cognitive. However, affect is an instantaneous or quick experiencing and comes very confidently. Therefore, most agrees to the idea that it is instinctual because thinking takes time and result in less confident action due to trouble taken for decision making. Affect is a very specific response hence very intense and focused.


Mood is a “state of emotion”. A mood always shows from facial expressions and verbal communication. Mood is not generated specifically from a stimulus or a specific event. A mood can generally be of two types, a negative mood or a positive mood (Basically a good mood or a bad mood). We cannot say if a mood is due to, say, a death, a victory, a divorce, a celebration etc. They are less intense and less focused. That is why we call it a “good” mood or a “bad” mood because why it is good or bad is not clear. Moods change from time to time, but they stay longer than affects.

When moods are disturbed for prolonged periods, it is identified as a mood disorder (e.g. bipolar disorder, depression, chronic stress). Positive mood has proved to enhance creativity, problem solving and thinking power. Interestingly it is also found that a person in a positive mood is highly sensitive to distractions. A negative mood, on the other hand, has proved to decrease thinking power, often results in confusion. When a person is constantly in a bad mood, it can lead to a mood disorder.

What is the difference between affect and mood?

• Affect occurs in response to a specific stimulus or an event, but mood can occur without specific stimulus or a reason.

• Affect is instantaneous and instinctual, but a mood takes time to develop and involves thinking.

• Affect is intense and focused, but the mood is diluted and unfocused.

• Affect is short-termed in comparison to mood; mood is long-termed and, therefore, the impacts may be larger and troublesome to cope up.

• Affect has a pin pointed- start and end, but a mood does not have a pin pointed start and end, or difficult to identify.