Mood effects on memory and executive control in a real-life situation

Prune Lagner, Matthias Kliegel, Louise H. Phillips, Andreas Ihle, Alexandra Hering, Nicola Ballhausen, Katharina M. Schnitzspahn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In the laboratory, studies have shown an inconsistent pattern of whether, and how, mood may affect cognitive functions indicating both mood-related enhancement as well as decline. Surprisingly, little is known about whether there are similar effects in everyday life. Hence, the present study aimed to investigate possible mood effects on memory and executive control in a real-life situation. Mood effects were examined in the context of winning in a sports competition. Sixty-one male handball players were tested with an extensive cognitive test battery (comprising memory and executive control) both after winning a match and after training as neutral baseline. Mood differed significantly between the two testing situations, while physiological arousal and motivation were comparable. Results showed lowered performance after the win compared with training in selected cognitive measures. Specifically, short-term and episodic memory performance was poorer following a win, whereas executive control performance was unaffected by condition. Differences in memory disappeared when emotional states after the match were entered as covariates into the initial analyses. Thus, findings suggest mood-related impairments in memory, but not in executive control processes after a positive real-life event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1116
Number of pages10
JournalCognition & Emotion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Mood
  • Emotion
  • Memory
  • Executive control


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