Does mood really influence comparative optimism? Tracking an elusive effect


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Olivier Desrichard, LIP Université de Savoie, BP1104, 73000 Chambéry, France (e-mail:


Methodological limitations call into question prior evidence that positive moods are associated with greater comparative optimism. Experiments 1–4 tested if mood affects comparative optimism using a mood manipulation that minimized experimenter demand. While the procedure was successful in inducing mood, we found no evidence for a mood effect on comparative optimism. The absence of a mood effect was not due to participants correcting their judgments in response to a presumed mood bias (Experiments 2, 3 and 4) or to participants proactively regulating their mood (Experiments 3 and 4). Experiment 5 compared the mood manipulation of Experiments 1–4 with an autobiographical recall procedure. Although the two methods were equally effective in inducing mood, only autobiographical recall influenced participants' comparative optimism. Study 6 provides preliminary evidence that experimenter demand may be responsible for the effects of autobiographical recall on comparative judgments.