Does reading in a bad mood make one more analytical?

Tam-Tri Le, AISDL

January 16, 2023

Author’s note: This article is an experiment using AI text generation to support academic writing. Detailed procedure and notes are deposited at:

More information on AISDL’s project on AI collaboration in academic writing:

Figure. DALL·E 2-generated image of an NLP AI working (January 16, 2023; openAI prompted by QH Vuong)

Grumpy people tend to be more skeptical in general, as they are more likely to be mistrustful and question the motives of those around them. This can be helpful in certain situations, such as when trying to identify false information or suspicious activity, but it can also lead to a more negative attitude towards people and ideas. From observations in normal life, it seems that moods can influence how a person deals with incoming information.

In a 2022 article published in the journal Frontiers in Communication, Lai et al. examine the effects of negative affect on reanalysis when there is a conflict between discourse context and world knowledge [1]. They found that participants who experienced negative affect were more likely to reanalyze the situation when presented with conflicting information. More specifically, those in a positive mood pay attention to both information sources of the real world and discourse context. In contrast, those in a negative mood tend to focus on the current discourse and reanalyze the details within the new information provided.

In brief, the aforementioned article’s author said that people in a negative mood “are more careful and analytical. They scrutinize what’s actually stated in a text, and they don’t just fall back on their default world knowledge” [2]. This finding suggests that emotions can play an important role in cognitive processes such as comprehension, providing insight into how our feelings shape our understanding of language-based communication.

The differences in processing patterns between two mood directions may involve adjusting the intensity of information filtering. According to the Mindsponge Theory [3], trust is an energy-saving mechanism in information processing [4]. Trust allows individuals to make decisions and take actions based on prior experience or knowledge without having to expend energy engaging in further research or analysis. This reduces the amount of time and effort spent on decision-making, allowing for more efficient use of resources. As shown in the study mentioned above, those in a bad mood tend to depend less on priorly stored values (world knowledge) and more on the information at hand. In other words, the degree of employing the trust mechanism is lower, making them more analytical toward new inputs.


[1] Lai VT, van Berkum J, Hagoort P. (2022). Negative affect increases reanalysis of conflicts between discourse context and world knowledge. Frontiers in Communication, 7, 910482.

[2] Blue A. (2023, January 13). How Your Mood Affects the Way You Process Language. Neuroscience News.

[3] Vuong QH. (2023). Mindsponge Theory. De Gruyter.

[4] Le TT, Nguyen MH, Vuong QH. (2022). Trust in mindsponge: A new perspective on information reliability. In: QH Vuong, VP La, MH Nguyen (Eds.). The mindsponge and BMF analytics for innovative thinking in social sciences and humanities (pp. 67–86). De Gruyter.

tags:   moodreading