Some results from Friday’s research.

Thank you. As ever, I was delighted by the response to my Friday request to complete a short mood questionnaire, even though I’d explained that it wouldn’t actually give you any feedback at its conclusion. 310 people were kind enough to take part, which is over 10% of our readership – an impressive response rate. So, as I say, thank you hugely to everyone who helped out.

Now I know this probably won’t interest everyone, but I thought I’d give you some of the results in today’s post. Please feel free to skip them, and come back tomorrow if this kind of thing isn’t your scene. However there are some quite intriguing findings, which have already helped me as I continue to work towards finding a really versatile mood test.

Here we go then. First, the top line numbers for three overall themes – Anxiety, Anger, and Sadness.

The percentage figures are the proportion of respondents who fell into each of six “buckets”:

Angry
Very – 0.3%
Quite a bit – 7.0%
Moderately – 16.1%
A little – 30.8%
Very slightly – 41.1%
Not at all – 4.7%

Anxious
Very – 3.3%
Quite a bit – 10.0%
Moderately – 28.1%
A little – 38.5%
Very slightly – 18.4%
Not at all – 1.7%

Sad
Very – 7.0%
Quite a bit – 14.0%
Moderately – 19.1%
A little – 25.8%
Very slightly – 31.4%
Not at all – 2.7%

Of the three broad emotions, Anxiety and Sadness seemed the most top-loaded, while Anger was relatively less common (certainly in this sample).

Now we’ll get into a lot more detail. (Hopefully not TOO much, but as I said earlier, please feel free to skip the rest if numbers aren’t your thing.)

A few paragraphs down, you’ll find a table of sorts.

Its first column is a correlation coefficient, which is a way of understanding how closely the two items in the second column are related. In this table, a score of 1 would mean that the two terms are completely in sync – in other words, all 310 people who took part in the survey selected exactly the same answer for both of the two items. For example, everyone who said they were Moderately Sad would have needed to also say they were Moderately Downhearted.

Where a pair of terms are a combination of a negative and positive term, I’ve reversed the scoring. So to arrive at a coefficient of 1 (the maximum, remember) everyone, for example, who said they were Not at all Sad, would also have had to say they were Very Happy (an opposites kind of thing).

A correlation coefficient of 0 (zero) would mean that there was absolutely no relationship between the two items. You might get a result like that if you asked people to report on their eye colour alongside their weight. As far as I know, the two are entirely unrelated.

Looking at our results, then, we see that the strongest relationship of the 66 pairs was between Sad and Downhearted. Not too suprising, that, and it’s evidence that Downhearted pretty much means the same as Sad.

The weakest relationship? It was between Confident and Annoyed: there’s very little connection between NOT being Annoyed, and feeling Confident. Again, I’d suggest this isn’t too surprising.

So, what – if any – surprises WERE there? Well, after all the more obvious pairings, when you get about twenty items down, you start to see a few quite strong connections between unhappiness and anxiety. Certainly for Moodnudges readers, anxiety seems to contribute quite strongly to a lower overall mood.

0.77    Sad – Downhearted
0.73    Upbeat – Happy
0.70    Happy – Good-Tempered
0.69    Annoyed – Angry
0.68    Happy – Downhearted
0.68    Nervous – Anxious
0.65    Good-Tempered – Easygoing
0.65    Sad – Happy
0.62    Happy – Confident
0.62    Happy – Easygoing
0.62    Upbeat – Downhearted
0.62    Upbeat – Good-Tempered
0.61    Upbeat – Confident
0.60    Upbeat – Sad
0.59    Good-Tempered – Downhearted
0.59    Sad – Good-Tempered
0.57    Downhearted – Angry
0.54    Downhearted – Anxious
0.54    Good-Tempered – Angry
0.53    Downhearted – Confident
0.53    Sad – Anxious
0.53    Sad – Confident
0.51    Unworried – Happy
0.50    Good-Tempered – Annoyed
0.50    Good-Tempered – Confident
0.50    Nervous – Downhearted
0.50    Sad – Easygoing
0.49    Downhearted – Annoyed
0.49    Easygoing – Anxious
0.49    Easygoing – Confident
0.49    Easygoing – Downhearted
0.48    Confident – Anxious
0.48    Unworried – Anxious
0.48    Unworried – Good-Tempered
0.48    Upbeat – Easygoing
0.47    Sad – Nervous
0.47    Unworried – Easygoing
0.47    Upbeat – Unworried
0.46    Anxious – Angry
0.46    Good-Tempered – Anxious
0.46    Unworried – Downhearted
0.44    Happy – Anxious
0.44    Sad – Angry
0.44    Unworried – Nervous
0.44    Unworried – Sad
0.43    Unworried – Confident
0.42    Nervous – Confident
0.41    Happy – Angry
0.40    Anxious – Annoyed
0.40    Nervous – Easygoing
0.39    Easygoing – Angry
0.39    Nervous – Angry
0.39    Nervous – Happy
0.39    Upbeat – Anxious
0.38    Upbeat – Angry
0.37    Happy – Annoyed
0.37    Sad – Annoyed
0.36    Easygoing – Annoyed
0.36    Nervous – Annoyed
0.36    Nervous – Good-Tempered
0.35    Unworried – Annoyed
0.34    Unworried – Angry
0.33    Confident – Angry
0.33    Upbeat – Nervous
0.30    Upbeat – Annoyed
0.26    Confident – Annoyed

Perhaps you’ve spotted things of interest in here? If so, I’d welcome your thoughts. Please feel free to share them…

9 thoughts on “Some results from Friday’s research.

  1. It’s fascinating!! There are so many correlations that appear to be downright contradictory.. Happy/Downhearted and Sad/Happy both in the top 10. Of course it’s perfectly possible to feel more than one emotion at a time – I think I may have given apparently contradictory answers myself. For me the answer might be that one feeling is ‘at heart’ or ‘at bottom’, while the other is more transient. For others it might be that although they’re sad at heart, they’re having a good bash at coping, or that they have the self-knowledge to know that though they feel a bit sad today, at heart they’re really ok. Or maybe we’re all just overthinking it.
    Whatever, it’s always (as with Moodscope and Wellbees) good to stop and try to identify exactly how it is we’re feeling, and thus perhaps to get a grip on our triggers.
    Thanks Jon!

    1. Mary, the mathematics behind this is a bit complicated, and I’ve muddied the waters a bit by making all the correlation values positive, which I did to try and make the figures easier to understand. Oops! In fact, there’s a strong negative correlation between Happy and Sad. So, if someone says they’re Happy, they’re also significantly likely to say they’re not sad. Does that make sense? It would be like finding out if someone was left-handed by asking them if they weren’t right-handed.

      Thanks for reminding us of the value of stopping to reflect. For me, it really does make a difference.

  2. It was interesting just to take part of course, because I actually found it very hard to pinpoint how I WAS feeling in that moment.
    It made me have to stop and slow down a little just to reflect on that.
    I agree with Mary, our emotions can be quite mixed at any one moment , and also what we call our emotions can vary!
    The anxiety/depression link is of course to be expected, but perhaps we could view it the other way round too – feeling low can make us anxious. I know that’s true for me, because the energy sapping effects of depression mean that I get behind in everything, which causes that constant stress and panic. Which is then a feedback loop into feeling low.
    The questions about anger made me think about whether I get angry, and made me realise that I do. And that it’s generally positive, because it’s often a precursor to making some necessary changes in life.
    What beautifully complex creatures we are.
    Good luck to you Jon in attempting to unravel us!

    1. Thanks Sally. How wise of you to raise the issue of what comes first when it comes to anxiety and depression. I think you’re right, there’s a lot to be said for both models – being anxious may lead to depression — but equally, some could find that being depressed makes them anxious, as you’ve indicated.

      I admire your realisation that you do get angry, and that it can be (can be a useful emotion, when it encourages you to take some kind of positive action. When I look at my own numbers, I think I don’t get angry enough — or at least I don’t let the anger show. Internalising it. of course, isn’t always a good thing.

  3. Jon–I am quite impressed by what you are doing. Your message today flashed me back to my undergrad and then graduate courses in statistics, which I hated but were required. I was in a fairly good place when I took your test and found the correlations quite interesting. Thinking that myself and all of your followers are very honest, but being aware of my own temptations, I wonder how often one has difficulty checking negative feelings on a mood scale.

    1. Thanks for the reflections, Gayle. My stats abilities are distinctly limited, but Excel comes in quite handy, fortunately! I agree that honesty isn’t always easy on questionnaires, particularly when it comes to the negatives. Sometimes your “I’m fine, I’m fine” voice kicks in, and while it doesn’t necessarily lead to you lying, I think it can sometimes stop you owning up to the truth. Great point.

  4. I was surprised to notice that although anxious, worried and angry I was also feeling positive and confident! Some days I can take things in my stride, others less so.

    1. Strange, isn’t it Frances? When we stop to think about it, were often feeling multiple emotions simultaneously. Great to hear you’re feeling good.

  5. I also think we probably all differ in our ability to tune in to certain emotions. I’ve learnt that for me internal anger, hostility and anxiety are good markers of an overall low mood but I’d tend not to recognise the accompanying sadness in isolation. This learning is something that came from doing the moodscope scores in the early days-so well worth continuing to try and unpick!

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