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Emotional Reactions to Music: Prevalence and Contributing Factors
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

People value music mainly for its abilities to induce emotions. Yet little is known about these experiences. The aim of this thesis was thus to investigate the nature and prevalence of emotional reactions to music, and what factors in the listener, the music, and the situation might contribute to such reactions.

Study I explored the prevalence of musical emotions and possible factors influencing such experiences through the use of a questionnaire sent out to a random and nationally representative sample. The results indicated that a majority of the responders frequently reacted emotionally to music, and that their reactions included both basic and complex emotions. Prevalence correlated with personality, gender, age, and music education.

Study II was designed to obtain a representative sample of situations where music induced emotions in listeners. The results showed that emotional reactions to music occurred in 24% of all episodes, and that the prevalence of specific emotions varied depending on the situation (e.g., other people present). However, causal inferences could not be drawn from Study I and II, so it was considered important to test predictions in a more controlled setting.

Study III showed in an experiment that listeners experienced more intense emotions (a) to self-chosen music than to randomly selected music and (b) when listening with a close friend or partner than when listening alone. Moreover, Openness to experience correlated with emotion intensity. All three factors were linked to positive emotions.

Overall, the thesis shows that (a) musical emotions are relatively common, (b) music can induce a variety of emotions, and (c) there are several features in the listener, the music, and the situation that may influence emotional reactions to music.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2011. , 53 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 67
Keyword [en]
music, emotion, personality, survey, experience sampling method, experiment
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-151605ISBN: 978-91-554-8081-3OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-151605DiVA: diva2:410669
Public defence
2011-06-01, Sydney Alrutz-salen, 13:026, Blåsenhus, von Kraemers allé 1A, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-05-11 Created: 2011-04-14 Last updated: 2011-07-01Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Emotional reactions to music in a nationally representative sample of Swedish adults: prevalence and causal influences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Emotional reactions to music in a nationally representative sample of Swedish adults: prevalence and causal influences
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2011 (English)In: Musicae scientiae, ISSN 1029-8649, Vol. 15, no 2, 174-207 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Empirical studies have indicated that listeners value music primarily for its ability to arouse emotions. Yet little is known about which emotions listeners normally experience when listening to music, or about the causes of these emotions. The goal of this study was therefore to explore the prevalence of emotional reactions to music in everyday life and how this is influenced by various factors in the listener, the music, and the situation. A self-administered mail questionnaire was sent to a random and nationally representative sample of 1.500 Swedish citizens between the ages of 18 and 65, and 762 participants (51%) responded to the questionnaire. Thirty-two items explored both musical emotions in general (semantic estimates) and the most recent emotion episode featuring music for each participant (episodic estimates). The results revealed several variables (e.g., personality, age. gender, listener activity) that were correlated with particular emotions. A multiple discriminant analysis indicated that three of the most common emotion categories in a set of musical episodes (i.e., happiness, sadness, nostalgia) could be predicted with a mean accuracy of 70% correct based on data obtained from the questionnaire. The results may inform theorizing about musical emotions and guide the selection of causal variables for manipulation in future experiments.

Keyword
keywords gender, music and emotion, music in everyday life, personality, questionnaire
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-141504 (URN)10.1177/1029864911401169 (DOI)000293303600004 ()
Available from: 2011-01-12 Created: 2011-01-12 Last updated: 2011-09-08Bibliographically approved
2. An experience sampling study of emotional reactions to music: listener, music, and situation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An experience sampling study of emotional reactions to music: listener, music, and situation
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2008 (English)In: Emotion, ISSN 1528-3542, E-ISSN 1931-1516, Vol. 8, no 5, 668-683 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Experience Sampling Method was used to explore emotions to music as they naturally occurred in everyday life, with a focus on the prevalence of different musical emotions and how such emotions are related to various factors in the listener, the music, and the situation. Thirty-two college students, 20 to 31 years old, carried a palmtop that emitted a sound signal seven times per day at random intervals for 2 weeks. When signaled, participants were required to complete a questionnaire on the palmtop. Results showed that music occurred in 37% of the episodes, and in 64% of the music episodes, the participants reported that the music affected how they felt. Comparisons showed that happiness-elation and nostalgia-longing were more frequent in episodes with musical emotions, whereas anger-irritation, boredom-indifference, and anxiety-fear were more frequent in episodes with nonmusical emotions. The prevalence of specific musical emotions correlated with personality measures and also varied depending on the situation (e.g., current activity, other people present), thus highlighting the need to use representative samples of situations to obtain valid estimates of prevalence.

Keyword
emotion, everyday life, experience sampling method, music listening, personality
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-101279 (URN)10.1037/a0013505 (DOI)000259842500009 ()18837617 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2009-04-22 Created: 2009-04-22 Last updated: 2016-04-27
3. The roles of music choice, social context, and listener personality in emotional reactions to music: A listening experiment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The roles of music choice, social context, and listener personality in emotional reactions to music: A listening experiment
2011 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-151603 (URN)
Available from: 2011-04-14 Created: 2011-04-14 Last updated: 2012-10-11Bibliographically approved

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