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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998 Aug;75(2):318-31.

On being happy and mistaken: mood effects on the fundamental attribution error.

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School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Does temporary mood influence the occurrence of the fundamental attribution error (FAE)? Based on recent affect-cognition theorizing and research on attributions, 3 experiments predicted and found that negative moods decrease and positive moods increase the FAE, because of the information-processing consequences of these affective states. In Experiment 1, happy mood enhanced and sad mood reduced dispositional attributions based on coerced essays advocating unpopular opinions. Experiment 2 replicated this effect using an unobtrusive mood induction in a field study. Experiment 3 further confirmed these results and also showed that changes in the FAE were linked to mood-induced differences in processing style, as indicated by memory data and confirmed by mediational analyses. The results are discussed in terms of the cognitive processing strategies that mediate mood effects on attributions. The implications of the findings for everyday inferences and for contemporary theories of affect and cognition are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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