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Negative mood affects the expression of negative but not positive emotions in mice

Cite this dataset

Clarkson, Jasmine; Leach, Matthew; Flecknell, Paul; Rowe, Candy (2020). Negative mood affects the expression of negative but not positive emotions in mice [Dataset]. Dryad.


Whether, and to what extent animals experience emotions is crucial for understanding their decisions and behaviour, and underpins a range of scientific fields, including animal behaviour, neuroscience, evolutionary biology and animal welfare science. However, research has predominantly focussed on alleviating negative emotions in animals, with the expression of positive emotions left largely unexplored. Therefore, little is known about positive emotions in animals and how their expression is mediated. We used tail handling to induce negative mood in laboratory mice and found that whilst being more anxious and depressed increased their expression of a discrete negative emotion (‘disappointment’) meaning that they were less resilient to negative events, their capacity to express a discrete positive emotion (‘elation’) was unaffected relative to control mice. Therefore, we show not only that mice have discrete positive emotions, but that they do so regardless of their current mood state. Our findings are the first to suggest that the expression of discrete positive and negative emotions in animals are not equally affected by long-term mood state. Our results also demonstrate that repeated negative events can have a cumulative effect to reduce resilience in laboratory animals, which has significant implications for animal welfare.


Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Award: BB/J014516/1