Affect and persuasion: Mood effects on the processing of message content and context cues and on subsequent behaviour



Two experiments are reported examining the impact of recipients' mood on the processing of simple, everyday persuasive communications and on subsequent behaviour. Consistent with the general assumption that affective states may inform an individual about the state of its current environment, it was found that positive (as compared to neutral or negative) mood reduced subjects' motivation to systematically process both content information and contextual cues. Specifically, Experiment I demonstrated that, in a field setting, the behaviour of subjects who had been put in a good mood was less likely to reflect differences in message content than the behaviour of neutral mood subjects. Experiment 2 replicated and extended these findings, showing that good mood subjects' behaviour was uninfluenced by content as well as context information, whereas bad mood subjects did make use of both types of information. Subject's cognitive responses and evaluations paralleled the behavioural data. The results are discussed in terms of their compatibility with contemporary models of persuasion, and their implications for future research on mood and persuasion and on the interplay of affect and cognition in general are considered.