The Effects of Mood on Moral Judgment: The Role of Self-Monitoring


  • This research represents the Honors Thesis of the first author, which was conducted under the supervision of the second author and supported by a Faculty Research Grant from Union College to the second author. The authors thank Mark Snyder and Paul Fuglestad for their helpful advice, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.

Kenneth G. DeBono, Department of Psychology, Union College, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308. E-mail:


After being induced, via film clips, into either a positive (happy) or negative (sad) mood, high and low self-monitors completed a moral reasoning task (the Defining Issues Test). The results indicate that mood had a significant impact on the moral decision making of low, but not high self-monitors. In particular, low self-monitors induced into a positive mood demonstrated more sophisticated and principled moral reasoning strategies than did low self-monitors induced into a negative mood. In contrast, the level of moral reasoning among high self-monitors did not differ significantly as a function of induced mood.