Mood congruence

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In psychiatry, mood congruence is the congruence between feeling, or the emotion that a person is experiencing, and affect display, or the manner in which that emotion is "presenting", or being expressed.

In psychology, symptoms are said to be mood-congruent if they are consistent with a patient's mood or mental disorder. Conversely, they are said to be mood-incongruent if they are inconsistent with their primary mood. For example, suicide ideation in a patient suffering from Major Depressive Disorder would be a mood-congruent symptom. Likewise, feelings of omnipotence or other delusions of grandeur would be considered mood-incongruent symptoms in the case of depression, while they would be mood-congruent in a person experiencing megalomania.

Often refers to mood-congruent delusions. Manic delusions include delusions of reference, religiousity, grandiosity. Depressive delusions include intense feelings of guilt, feeling as though they are responsible for a terrible crime, delusions of persecution as well as thought-blocking, thought-insertion and thought-withdrawal.

Moreover, in social psychology the definition mood congruency refers to a cognitive mechanism that explains a wide variety of mood effects in which there is a match in affective valence between people’s mood and their responses (Mayer et al., 1992). Cognitive therapy pays special attention to mood congruence due to the use of Mood Repair Strategies which are meant to shift an individual from a negative mood to a positive one.

Examples:

  • Congruent mood - smiling while feeling happy.
  • Non-congruent mood - smiling while feeling anxious.
  • Inappropriate affect - laughing while describing a loved one's funeral, for instance.

Mood Congruency is strongest when people try to recall personally meaningful episodes, because such events were most likely to be colored by their moods.