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Temperament, Mood and Emotion


Explanations > Emotions > Temperament, Mood and Emotion

Positive and negative | Temperament | Mood | Emotion | So what


Temperament, mood and emotion are three distinct feeling-states, differentiated by time.

Positive and negative

Emotions can be positive or negative, giving pleasure or discomfort. The feeling can be slight or intense. It can also last for a shorter or longer period.


Temperament is associated with your personality. It is something you are born with or acquire young and seldom change. Some people have a sunny disposition whilst others are always nervous or irritable.

Temperament thus lasts for the duration. It is a lifetime platform on which moods and emotions occur. If your temperament is negative, being happy may seem better to you, but it may yet be lower than the everyday median of a naturally optimistic person.

Temperaments are often vague, diffuse emotions, which may be contrasted with the more distinct mood and very specific emotions. In this way, we may well not notice our temperaments.

Temperament can be based on beliefs, which does hold out hope. Examine what you believe: What long-term emotional state does it lead to? What if you believed something else?


Moods are shorter-term emotional states, typically lasting hours, although they can last for days or longer. For example you may wake up feeling a bit down and stay that way for most of the day.

We can be sent into a mood by an unexpected event, from the happiness of seeing an old friend to the anger of discovering betrayal by a partner. We may also just fall into a mood.

Medical conditions such as depression are not really moods and are typically caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Moods can be caused by shorter-term chemical imbalances, for example brought on by a poor diet.


Emotions as commonly experienced and discussed are different from moods and temperament in several ways.

First, emotions tend to last for much shorter periods. The delight at being given a birthday present may subside in minutes as it is replaced by disappointment about a useless gift. Emotions thus tend to replace one another and it can be difficult to be both happy and sad (although we may have a good go at it).

Emotions also tend to be more extreme than moods and temperament, with higher highs and lower lows. We can become very angry very quickly, though it is difficult to stay very angry and it may subside into a irritable mood or be replaced by another completely different emotions.

Emotions tend to be very specific, triggered by noticeable events and are immediate reactions to these and which drive us to particular actions, for example running away from a snarling dog or going to chat up an attractive other person.

So what?

Understand your emotional makeup -- and that of others, and decide how to change or use these, based on their intensity and how long they will likely last.

Being in an upbeat mood may well make them more open to a positive style of persuasion. If they are down, then a more sympathetic approach may be better. It may also be better to leave persuading them to another day.

It is easier to trigger shorter-term emotions and these are often core to persuasive methods.

See also

Schinnerer, J.L. (2007), Guide to Self: The Beginner's Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, Authorhouse



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