How To Measure Mood Using Quantified Self Tools

CircumplexHere is a brief roundup of some of the things we’ve either collected or written about tracking mood since we first started paying attention to mood tracking back in 2008.

Get Your Mood On

Alex Carmichael and Robin Barooah have recently completed work on an excellent book detailing their experiences and knowledge gained from years of mood tracking. We’ve already posted the first three chapters of their book and are excited to bring you more in the upcoming weeks.

  1. Why Measure Mood and How It Can Help
  2. How is Mood Measured?
  3. Preparing Your Mental State for Self-Tracking
  4. DIY Mood Tracking
  5. Mood Sharing and Experimentation
  6. Exploring the Future of Mood Tracking

Mood Tracking  Show & Tell Talks

Mood tracking is also a popular presentation topic at our worldwide Meetup groups. Here are a few of the talks from the last year that discuss personal mood tracking projects.

  • Remko Siemerink on Mood and Music: Remko Siemerink tells his personal story of health insights through accidental lifelogging. He has bipolar disorder, and has been using last.fm over the past 7 years to track his music listening and compare it with his friends’ music patterns.
  • Marie Dupuch on Mood Tracking With Colors: Marie created a rating scale based on colors as a visual metric, and a self-reported quantifiable metric, to gauge her mood over periods of time. This led her to have more awareness and provided the information she needed to make confident choices in her own life.
  • Erik Kennedy on Tracking Happiness: Erik was interested in what makes him happy so he started tracking it. After categorizing hundreds of events he shares what makes him happy, what doesn’t, and some very thoughtful takeaways.

Mood Measuring Tools

Here’s a list of some of the mood measuring tools we’ve covered in the past and used in our personal lives. This list is by no means complete so if you use a mood tracker we don’t mention be sure to add it in the comments!

  • Moodscope: A simple online tracker and support system. Make sure to watch founder Jon Cousin’s show & tell talk about how and why he created Moodscope.
  • Moodpanda: Track your mood online or with mobile apps (iOS and Android).  Read our Toolmaker Talk with founder Ross Larter here.
  • Expereal: A  new visual mood rating and journal application. Read our Toolmaker Talk with founder Jonathan Cohen here.
  • MoodJam: An online tool to track your mood using colors and keywords. Watch founder Ian Li talk about the latest version of MoodJam at a QS Pittsburgh Meetup.

The Science of Mood Measurement

For deeper background on the scholarly work and controversy about how mood is measured here’s a long post by QS Founder Gary Wolf: Measuring Mood: Current Research and New Ideas.

What do you do to track mood? What have you learned?

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13 Responses to How To Measure Mood Using Quantified Self Tools

  1. Darren says:

    i’ve used the google docs form to track mood and eating to track the relationship between eating unhealthy snacks and mood. Thanks for the great tip here about using google forms as a great QS tool. The insights were very helpful to notice that I ate poorly when I was not in the happiest moods. Over a short period of time, I no longer needed to track anymore… new behaviors took shape as a result of the QS insights.

    • Ernesto Ramirez says:

      Darren, that is great to hear! I’m left wondering if the positive experience you had with tracking mood and eating led you to track other things in your life. Have you given a QS talk? We would love to hear more about your story!

      • Darren says:

        1. cravings – yes/no
        2. satisfaction – satisfied/unsatisfied
        3. event – free form to see if there was non-empirical qualifier such as lost my wallet, got into fight with friend, etc.

        I also thought to track grams of sugar and weight but never filled-in; I guess if you make it too hard you won’t do it, lol

        Lastly, i took advantage of the form to also check off (used a checklist) any personal daily habits I was trying to promote if I had done them that day, e.g., exercise, journal entry, meditation, etc…

        * examples used are illustrative and not necessarily the actual ones I used.

      • Darren says:

        basically, tracking cravings vs satisfaction level both confirmed a correlation and brought greater awareness to mood-based eating. Once the correlation was made, tracking started waning and eventually stopped. i tracked regularly from 8/6-18, and then only a few times till stopping on 9/3. So it all took less than a month to effect a change in awareness. the whole thing was inspired when i came across the concept of cravings and satisfaction.

        I set up a google form for my wife but she hasn’t done any tracking :(

        i find bookmarking the form on homescreen of smartphone or tablet makes it easy.

        the process also helped me make other correlations between diet and bowel regularity, and improve some personal habits. i think the act of tracking for a month is an act of forced awareness which then effects a change, like they say do something for 30 days and you develop a new habit… Probably unlike goal setting, praying, etc…

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  3. Zach says:

    Hello,

    I have also tracked QS variables in a Google Spreadsheet – most recently in 2011, tracking over 20 variables including my mood, sleep quality the night before (using Sleep Cycle for iOs), color of my shirt, meals, coffee intake, and more.

    My problem is, I now have this giant spreadsheet full of variables, some rated out of 100 (such as my metric for Sleep Quality using the app), some rated out of 10 (mood), and some simply 0 or 1 (did I eat breakfast?).

    As a QS enthusiast with a weak quantitative background (I’m not sure there are many of us out there yet…), does anyone know how I could analyze the data to find hidden correlations?

    For example, if wearing the color orange, out of all of my variables, somehow drastically improved my mood, how could I uncover that and other correlation metrics (among 20 variables) in Excel, or even R?

    THANK YOU!!!! Been dying to get an answer. Will write and heavily promote a QS-focused blog post on my conclusions with data and give somebody due credit for their technical expertise! Even a link to learn some techniques would mean the world.

    • Darren says:

      Hi Zach & Ernesto

      There may be a better way — i’d like to see it — but if there is interest from at least a few participants, I would be willing to do a free webinar using Zach’s data conducting an analysis using excel pivot tables and charts.

      • Gary Wolf says:

        Darren, what’s the ideal number of participants. I could invite some people but I don’t want to overcrowd.

        • Darren says:

          no minimum. if it was a large 10-100+ group, i’d want someone to be a moderator handling questions via chat with all “callers” muted, e.g., a google+ hangout, or gotomeeting. If we’re only 3-5 people, then we could do this much more informally. It might be nice to do an informal one to get feedback from QS pros as I go, and then have a more “buttoned up” version for a larger crowd — how big a crowd could you draw?

          • Zach says:

            Darren,

            I agree that an informal webinar would be good at first to test and knead out any logistical issues for a bigger “button up” presentation in the future. This is an outstanding idea. It will be great to empower new members in the QS community and, in turn, spark more examples of the hidden insights and resulting changes that can result from tracking personal data.

            Email me at zprgrove@gmail.com or just reply to this comment with your info. I will get you my data.

            Any suggestions on the best site (Google Hangouts, gotowebinar) to use? Also I think Camtasia would be good to record Darren’s methods to share the video in blogs.

          • Zach says:

            Darren,

            I’m so sorry – I went to finally send you the QS data but found that I accidentally deleted your email. Think you could shoot me another one so I have your email address (zprgrove@gmail.com) or just comment with your email address and I will get that to you?

            Sorry about the delay!
            P.S. I made the file very clean so I think it will be easy for your analysis purposes. Excited to see what you come up with for the QS community webinar…of course I am ready to help with webinar invites and pitching other QS blogs to get a good turnout for this experimental webinar.

            -Zach
            zprgrove@gmail.com

          • Darren Ernest says:

            sorry for dropping the ball on this. We got a puppy, had our first baby, and bought a house a moved from manhattan to the country all in the same year! I’ll email you to check on progress and see if there is still interest here.

  4. Gary Wolf says:

    Darren and Zach – yes, I think this is an excellent idea. Darren if you want to do a webinar to help some of us analyze our data, I’ll join and bring my own data. Anybody else up for it?

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