Forgas, J.P. (under review). On being happy and mistaken: Mood effects on the fundamental attribution error.

Does temporary mood influence the incidence of the fundamental attribution error? Based on recent affect-cognition theorizing (cf. Forgas, 1995a) and research on attributions, two experiments predicted and found that negative moods decrease, and positive moods increase the fundamental attribution error (FAE) due to 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 a different mood induction, and controlling for the possibility that different levels of arousal may have confounded the results. Experiment 2 also found that recall memory was improved by negative moods and diminished by good moods, establishing that more systematic processing induced by dysphoria was indeed linked to a reduction in the FAE. The results are discussed in terms of the cognitive processing strategies that mediate mood effects on attributions. The implications of these findings for everyday inferences and for contemporary theories of affect and cognition are considered.