Profile of Mood States

Profile of Mood States

A test designed to measure certain psychological traits. Profile Of Mood States (POMS) is a popular tool among sport psychologists who have used it to compare the prevailing moods of elite athletes and non-athletes. Six mood states are used in POMS:

  • tension
  • depression
  • anger
  • vigor
  • fatigue
  • confusion

Participants are given a score for each trait according to their responses to certain statements which include key words such as unhappy, tense, careless, and cheerful. For each statement, subjects state how they feel at that moment, or how they felt over the previous day, few days, or week, by choosing one of the following responses: not at all; a little; moderately; quite a lot; extremely.

Elite athletes from different sports (including runners, rowers, and wrestlers) tend to score below average for negative states such as tension, depression, fatigue, and confusion; and score well above average on vigor. When presented on a graph, the POMS profile for these elite athletes assumes a characteristic shape that has been called the ‘iceberg’ profile; the better the athlete, the more pronounced the profile.

Profile of Mood States. The 'iceberg' profile characteristic of elite athletes. From Morgan, W.P. (1980) Test of the champions: the iceberg profile. Psychology Today. 6 July. 92-108.

POMS may be used to diagnose overtraining because the shape of the profile becomes inverted when an athlete overtrains.