Emotional and psychophysiological responses to tempo, mode, and percussiveness

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Zwaag, Marjolein van der and Westerink, Joyce H.D.M. and Broek, Egon L. van den (2011) Emotional and psychophysiological responses to tempo, mode, and percussiveness. Musicae Scientiae, 15 (2). pp. 250-269. ISSN 1029-8649

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Abstract:People often listen to music to influence their emotional state. However, the specific musical characteristics which cause this process are not yet fully understood. We have investigated the influence of the musical characteristics of tempo, mode and percussiveness on our emotions. In a quest towards ecologically valid results, 32 participants listened to 16 pop and 16 rock songs while conducting an office task. They rated experienced arousal, valence, and tension, while skin conductance and cardiovascular responses were recorded. An increase in tempo was found to lead to an increase in reported arousal and tension and a decrease in heart rate variability. More arousal was reported during minor than major mode songs. Level and frequency of skin conductance responses increased with an increase in percussiveness. Physiological responses revealed patterns that might not have been revealed by self-report. Interaction effects further suggest that musical characteristics interplay in modulating emotions. So, tempo, mode, and percussiveness indeed modulate our emotions and, consequently, can be used to direct emotions. Music presentation revealed subtly different results in a laboratory setting, where music was altered with breaks, from those in a more ecologically valid setting where continuous music was presented. All in all, this enhances our understanding of the influence of music on emotions and creates opportunities seamlessly to tap into listeners’ emotional state through their physiological responses.
Item Type:Article
Copyright:© 2011 Sage
Faculty:
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)
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Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/publications/77741
Official URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1029864911403364
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