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Do mood stones really work?

Do mood stones really work?

What are mood stones?

Mood stones, also known as mood rings, are rings or pendants that contain thermochromic liquid crystals that change color based on the temperature of the skin underneath them. The basic premise is that the color of the mood stone indicates the emotional state or mood of the wearer.

The mood ring was created in 1975 by two New York inventors, Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats. They bonded liquid crystals with quartz stones set into rings. When worn, the heat of a finger would cause the crystals to change color. Cooler temperatures would show up as a blue or purple color, while warmer temperatures resulted in red, orange or yellow. The makers tied specific moods to the colors, claiming the rings could reveal a person’s emotional state.

How do mood stones work?

Mood stones work through the use of thermochromic liquid crystals encased in the jewelry. Thermochromic liquid crystals contain cholesteric liquid crystals that change color at different temperatures. When the temperature of the ring changes from the heat of the finger, the liquid crystals twist into a new alignment, reflecting a different wavelength of light and changing the color that is visible.

Here is a basic overview of how the typical mood stone works:

Skin Temperature Color Associated Mood
Less than 82°F (28°C) Black or blue Stressed, tense
82-86°F (28-30°C) Green Normal, balanced
86-90°F (30-32°C) Yellow or amber Relaxed, happy
Over 90°F (32°C) Brown or gray Excited, passionate

As you can see, the mood stone displays different colors at different temperatures. In theory, someone feeling relaxed, balanced, and happy will have a warmer skin temperature than someone feeling stressed or tense. So the color of the stone gives an indication about the wearer’s mood.

Do mood stones actually reflect emotions?

There has been little scientific research done on whether mood rings can accurately reflect emotions. However, most experts agree that mood rings do not give meaningful insight into a person’s emotional state. Here are some reasons why mood stones are unlikely to reflect emotions:

– Skin temperature is dependent on many factors besides mood, like ambient temperature and physical activity. Fingers can quickly change temperature due to the environment.

– The specific colors tied to various emotions have no scientific backing. There is no evidence that feeling “tense” consistently lowers skin temperature compared to feeling “relaxed.”

– Emotions themselves do not necessarily have identifiable physical manifestations like skin temperature changes. Things like stress and excitement can be experienced in similar ways physically.

– Skin temperature varies significantly between different people. What may be a relaxed temperature for one person could be a stressed temperature for someone else.

– The skin of the fingers, especially the index finger commonly used for mood rings, is usually significantly cooler than internal body temperature and less reflective of any changes.

So while mood rings rely on the idea that emotions cause measurable physical changes in the body, the reality is much more complex. There are too many variables that affect skin temperature unrelated to mood. The concept behind mood stones is an intriguing one, but most research suggests they cannot provide a reliable indication of a person’s internal emotional state. The mood associations are largely exaggerated marketing.

What do critics say about mood stones?

Critics of mood stones point to several reasons why they believe the rings are nothing more than a novelty item:

Lack of scientific evidence – As mentioned, there is no research validating the ability of mood stones to accurately reflect emotions. Critics argue this alone debunks their legitimacy.

Vague color interpretations – The “meanings” assigned to mood stone colors are vague and generic enough to apply to nearly anyone. Terms like “tense,” “balanced,” and “passionate” could describe most people at various times.

Profit-driven marketing – Critics contend that mood stones are marketed using exaggerated claims to convince consumers the rings work. The mood associations help sell more rings, despite a lack of proof behind them.

Temperature inconsistencies – Skin temperature naturally fluctuates throughout the day for reasons unrelated to mood. Critics say this makes mood stones incapable of producing consistent color readings.

Lack of calibration to individuals – Mood stones have no baseline or calibration to each individual’s skin temperature. What may indicate “tension” for one person could be “relaxed” for another.

Placebo effect – Some critics argue mood ring wearers convince themselves the rings are working due to the placebo effect. The mood colors essentially prime the wearer to feel certain emotions.

Overall, critics see little science behind mood stones. They consider the stones entertainment rather than legitimate mood analysis tools. At best, mood stones may promote self-reflection but they do not provide meaningful insight into emotions based on skin temperature.

What do supporters say about mood stones?

While critics see little merit to mood stones, supporters argue the rings have value, albeit with caveats:

Promotes self-awareness – By wearing a mood ring, people may become more aware of their internal emotional states throughout the day. The ring can serve as a prompt for self-reflection.

Provides conversation starter – Mood rings give wearers an easy way to let others know how they are feeling. The color can signal to loved ones that you are stressed, happy, etc.

Interesting novelty item – Even if inaccurate, supporters argue mood rings are fun novelty items. The mood concept is entertaining and the changing colors give people something to watch and discuss.

Can complement mood tracking – Mood stones could be used alongside other mood tracking methods like journaling. Though imprecise alone, rings provide another data point.

Meaning comes from wearer – The ring colors have no inherent meaning. But wearers can assign their own interpretations to the colors they see throughout the day.

Supporters admit that mood stones have definite limitations. But when viewed as an entertainment product rather than a scientific device, supporters argue mood rings have enjoyable, if restricted, uses for promoting self-awareness and conversation.

Are mood stones just a pseudoscientific novelty?

When evaluating the evidence from critics and supporters, it seems clear that mood stones are a pseudoscientific novelty rather than an accurate mood analysis tool. Here are some key reasons why mood stones should be considered a novelty:

– Lack of rigorous scientific proof about the ability of thermochromic liquid crystals to detect emotions through skin temperature changes. The mood theory behind the stones remains unvalidated.

– No calibration to an individual’s natural skin temperature patterns. One-size-fits-all color interpretations are unlikely to be precise.

– Vague, generic mood associations tied to the ring colors themselves. The mood descriptions lack specificity.

– Skin temperatures depend on countless variables beyond just internal emotional states. Making mood determinations based on limited temperature data points is arguably futile.

– Evidence that expectations and the placebo effect impact people’s perceptions of the rings’ accuracy. Believing the rings work seems to influence peoples’ evaluations.

– No consistent evidence that wearing mood rings improves self-awareness of emotions or moods compared to not wearing them.

So while the concept behind mood rings is interesting and they can serve as conversational pieces, the pseudoscientific claims about their ability to gauge emotions through skin temperature changes are doubtful. Mood stones are better viewed as novelty items rather than as scientific mood analysis tools. Enjoy them for entertainment, but take their mood analysis with a grain of salt.


Mood stones like mood rings became popular in the 1970s based on the concept that variable thermochromic liquid crystals could track emotions through skin temperature changes. But decades later, there remains no scientific proof that mood stones accurately reflect internal emotional states. The color interpretations tend to be vague and imprecise for most wearers. Environmental factors also easily throw off the skin temperature readings.

When viewed as a novelty item rather than a scientific device, mood stones can still be an enjoyable jewelry piece. They may promote some self-reflection and conversation. But given the lack of rigorous evidence about mood stones’ analysis capabilities, they are likely just a pseudoscientific novelty rather than a means for accurately tracking emotional states. Mood stones may look pretty on the finger but they probably can’t offer much insight into the state of the wearer’s mind or heart.