What's the Science Behind Mood Rings?

By: HSW Contributors  | 
mood ring showing blue color
If your mood ring is showing a blue color, you should be feeling quite calm and relaxed. Reimar/Shutterstock
Key Takeaways
  • Mood rings gained popularity in the 1970s due to their supposed ability to reflect the wearer's emotions through color changes.
  • The color changes in mood rings are caused by body temperature fluctuations, rather than any accurate reflection of mood.
  • While they may not accurately portray emotions, mood rings remain a fun and nostalgic fashion accessory for some people.

The first mood ring was introduced in 1975 by New York inventors Maris Ambats and Josh Reynolds, and became an extremely popular fad and fashion accessory in the late 1970s.

The idea behind a mood ring is simple: If a person wears a mood ring on their finger, the mood ring color corresponds to the state of the wearer's emotions by picking up on temperature changes. In other words, the mood ring monitors how you are feeling. The ring's stone should be dark blue if you're feeling calm and happy, and the mood ring supposedly will change color and turn black if you are anxious or feeling stressed.


While a mood ring, or other mood jewelry for that matter, cannot reflect a wearer's different emotions with any real scientific accuracy, a mood ring is actually an indicator of your body's involuntary physical reaction to your emotional state.So, what are the mood ring color meanings and how do they work?


How Do Mood Rings Work?

The stone in a mood ring is either a hollow glass shell filled with thermotropic liquid crystals, or a clear glass stone sitting on top of a thin sheet of liquid crystals. These liquid crystal molecules are very sensitive; they change position, or twist, according to changes in temperature.

mood ring showing a green color
Green reflected in a mood ring is the color of the typical, or "normal" wearer's body temperature, which is approximately 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius).

This change in molecular structure affects the wavelengths of light that are absorbed or reflected by the thermotropic liquid crystals, resulting in an apparent change in the color of the stone. For example, as the wearer's body temperature increases, the liquid crystal molecules twist slightly in one direction. This twist causes the liquid crystal substance to absorb more of the red and green portions of the visible light, and reflect the blue part. This causes the stone to appear dark blue. When the body temperature decreases to a cooler temperature, the molecules begin to twist in the other direction, and reflect a different portion of the spectrum.


The inside of the ring conducts heat from your finger to the liquid crystals in the "stone." The color green, which signifies "average" on the mood ring color scale, is calibrated to a typical wearer's body temperature, approximately 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). If your surface temperature varies far enough from the norm, then the liquid crystals in the stone alter enough to cause a change in the color reflected. And if you take a mood ring off, it will normally change to black unless the ambient temperature is very high.


Mood Ring Color Meanings

Take a look at the mood ring color chart below, what "mood" they represent and how mood rings correspond to the wearer's emotions. The colors are listed according to the change in temperature they represent, with dark blue being the warmest and black the coolest.

  • dark blue: Happy, romantic or passionate
  • blue: Calm or relaxed
  • blue-green: Somewhat relaxed
  • green: Normal or average
  • amber: A little nervous or anxious
  • gray: Very nervous or anxious
  • black: Stressed, tense or feeling harried

If you take a moment to think about the moods represented by the mood ring colors, you'll see a definite correlation between your body's surface temperature and the color of the liquid crystal. When you are in a passionate mood, your skin is usually flushed. This is a physical reaction to an emotion, causing the capillaries to move closer to the surface of the skin and release heat. This brings about a slight change in the surface temperature of your body. When you are nervous or stressed, your skin may feel clammy. This physical reaction to your emotional state causes the capillaries to move deeper into your skin, causing the surface temperature to drop.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can mood rings accurately reflect emotions?
No, mood rings do not have the ability to accurately reflect emotions. The color changes in mood rings are simply a response to changes in body temperature, not a reliable indicator of mood.
Are there any scientific studies supporting the claims of mood rings?
There is limited scientific evidence supporting the claims of mood rings. Most studies suggest that the color changes are purely due to temperature fluctuations and do not correlate with specific emotions. Some argue that the placebo effect may play a role in people believing in the accuracy of mood rings.