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Are mood rings actually accurate?

Are mood rings actually accurate?

Mood rings have been around since the 1970s and remain popular jewelry items to this day. The rings are designed to change colors in response to shifts in your body temperature, purportedly revealing your mood or emotional state. But do these color-changing rings actually reflect your mood? Let’s explore what mood rings are, how they work, and whether they live up to their claims.

What are mood rings and how do they work?

A mood ring is a ring that contains special liquid crystals that change colors based on the temperature of your skin. The ring is designed to be worn on your finger, allowing the liquid crystals to respond to subtle fluctuations in your body temperature.

Here’s a quick explanation of how mood rings work:

  • The ring contains thermochromic liquid crystals – crystals that change color in response to temperature changes.
  • When worn on your finger, the ring responds to your skin temperature.
  • Warmer temperatures cause the liquid crystals to twist into a structure that reflects different light wavelengths, changing the color that is visible.
  • Cooler temperatures cause another twist in structure and color change.

So essentially, the color changes displayed by your mood ring are directly related to the temperature of your finger.

Do standard color charts reflect moods and emotions?

Most mood rings come with a color chart that claims to link certain colors with specific moods or emotions. A typical mood ring color guide looks something like this:

Color Meaning
Black Stressed
Blue Calm
Green Neutral
Yellow Happy
Brown Nervous
Grey Sad

However, most scientific experts agree that these standard color charts are not actually accurate reflections of emotions. There is no evidence that a blue mood ring really means you’re calm or a yellow ring really means you’re happy. The premise of linking finger temperature to mood is not supported by physiology.

What affects finger temperature?

While mood ring color charts connect finger temperature to your emotional state, research shows that many other factors influence finger temperature, including:

  • Environmental temperature – Your finger will be cooler in a cold room.
  • Blood circulation – Poor circulation will reduce finger temperature.
  • Weather – Hot, humid days warm your body and fingers.
  • Physical activity – Exercise warms your body and increases finger temperature.
  • Body position – Hand elevated above your heart is cooler.
  • Illness – Fevers or infections raise body temperature.
  • Injuries – Cuts or abrasions can inflame fingers.
  • Stress – Some claim stress reduces finger temperature.

As you can see, many different variables affect the temperature of your finger besides your mood or emotions. External factors can change your mood ring color, even if you’re feeling the same way emotionally.

What does the research say?

A few studies have looked directly at the accuracy of mood rings in reflecting emotions:

  • A 1982 study compared subjects’ mood ring colors to their reported moods. There was no correlation between the two.
  • A 2007 study exposed subjects to happy or sad stimuli and measured their finger temperature. There was no significant difference between the two emotional states.
  • A 2016 review concluded that mood rings have no scientific backing to support that they accurately reflect emotions.

This limited research shows little evidence for mood rings revealing internal emotional states. The authors conclude that mood rings are more of a novelty item than a scientific mood detector.

Can mood rings detect physiological stress?

While the research suggests mood rings don’t accurately reflect emotions, a few studies propose they could detect physiological stress responses:

  • A 1979 study found temperature differences when subjects solved math problems under time pressure.
  • A 2007 study detected slightly lower finger temperature after subjects viewed distressing images.
  • A 1990 study linked increased finger temperature to relaxation techniques.

These studies suggest mood rings might be able to detect the physical stress response related to anxiety, excitement, or relaxation. However, the effects are small and could be influenced by many confounding factors.


Based on the available research, there is little evidence supporting mood rings as accurate indicators of emotion. The premise that finger temperature correlates to mood is not backed by physiology or studies. However, mood rings may be able to detect some physiological signs of stress and anxiety. While they don’t live up to their marketing claims, mood rings can still be fun jewelry pieces.

The bottom line

Mood rings are unlikely to provide insight into your inner emotional world. But they can be entertaining jewelry with an interesting history. If you enjoy the novelty and nostalgia, mood rings can be fun accessories, just don’t expect scientific accuracy. Approach them with skepticism and playfulness.