Talk of the ‘mood’ of the British people and their attitudes towards easing lockdown and get back to normal throws up interesting questions about what mood is, and how we measure it at scale.
Mood is more than a psychological state it’s a bodily one. Moods are embodied. Our bodies express spontaneously our moods and other pick them up. Mood is a form of social contagion that is shared by people who are in close contact with each other.
Mood is a collective phenomenon, something that a crowd exemplifies. To judge a mood – of a street, city or nation, requires more than a survey. To really understand the mood of the people requires engagement of a more embodied nature, the one thing that is denied us at the moment.
The effectiveness of what comes after the lockdown will depend on judging the mood of people – their hunger to get out, their fear of infecting or being infected.
Rarely has the efficacy of a policy depended for its development on an input that is unavailable to policy makers. It’s unavailable because they can’t ‘get out’ and even if they could there would be no public to encounter whose moods they could experience for themselves.