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http://pom.sagepub.com/ Perception of six basic emotions in music
Christine Mohn, Heike Argstatter and Friedrich-Wilhelm Wilker Psychology of Music 2011 39: 503 originally published online 27 October 2010 DOI: 10.1177/0305735610378183 The online version of this article can be found at: http://pom.sagepub.com/content/39/4/503
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Blindem. Eighteen musical segments.com Department of Psychology. The results show that six basic emotions are perceivable in musical segments previously unknown to the listeners. 1983). PO Box 1094. disgust. Heidelberg.1177/0305735610378183 pom. [email: christinemohn@hotmail. Corresponding author: Christine Mohn. Norway Heike Argstatter German Center for Music Therapy Research (Viktor Dulger Institute). although there was large variability in the percentage of correct classification of each of the segments comprising each emotion. anger. and fear – are associated with separate autonomic activation patterns and facial expressions. 2012 . 2002). sadness. Germany Friedrich-Wilhelm Wilker Abstract Department of Music Therapy. and happiness and sadness were easier to classify than the other emotions.sagepub. Department of Pscyhology. Germany A test of the ability to perceive six basic emotions (happiness. personality Introduction According to the neuro-cultural theory of Paul Ekman (Ekman & Friesen. Norway and Vestre Viken Hospital Trust. surprise. Moreover. anger. suggestive of evolutionary theory strongly contributing to explaining the origins of emotion. Ekman.com] Downloaded from pom. 1993). 1992. 0317. 1971.Article Perception of six basic emotions in music Christine Mohn Psychology of Music 39(4) 503–517 © The Author(s) 2010 Reprints and permission: sagepub. the six emotions – happiness. Elfenbein & Ambady. facial emotions are assumed to have evolved in order to allow rapid communication of danger or safety (Ekman. sadness. were designed for this test using a variety of solo instruments.uk/journalsPermission. University of Oslo. Specifically. & Friesen.nav DOI: 10. disgust.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30.sagepub. Levenson. University of Oslo. surprise. and fear) in music was presented to 115 participants. co. Heidelberg. Keywords emotions. University of Applied Sciences. lasting 3–5 seconds. Norway. the ability to classify musical emotions was not related to childhood or youth musical instruction or personality traits (assessed by NEO-PI-R). music. Moreover. the ability to identify these emotions through facial expression seems to be universal among humans (Ekman. Oslo.
surprise. Several studies have reported that humans are very adept at identifying the emotional content of music (Sloboda & Juslin. sadness. In addition. In a study of the relationship between personality traits and music preferences. Personality traits and emotion perception in music Individual differences may influence the perception of emotions in music. It seems that several other emotions may be identified acoustically. rapid manner. dreams. artistic leisure activities. 2006). 2009). Moreover. (2008) by assessing the ability to detect all six basic universal emotions (Ekman. Zhang. Dalla Bella. and Chamorro-Premuzic (2006) found a significant negative association between conscientiousness (C) and creativity. 2005). A preference for cheerful. 1992) in unfamiliar musical stimuli. 2004). rock. usually the happiness–sadness dichotomy. while high levels of O were related to a wide range of preferences (rock. A study of participants with unknown musical experience demonstrated a significant relationship between emotional intelligence and the ability to identify the correct emotions of tempo. Furnham. where vision is unobstructed. jazz. folk. and peacefulness may be readily recognized in relatively short stimuli (9–16 seconds). and ‘easy listening’ music). Vieillard et al. and that a year later they start taking mode into consideration when making the same classification. For example. and electronic music). In addition to a positive relationship between O and self-reported creativity. that each of the emotions that may be expressed facially also has a vocal expression (Ekman. upbeat (often vocal) music was positively correlated Downloaded from pom. such as loudness. and disgust (Kallinen. Peretz. 2003). and prosody. This ability may be so pivotal for human communication that it is manifested early in childhood (Nawrot. Emotion regulation seems to be one of the primary reasons for the use of music in everyday life (Juslin & Laukka. several studies have been performed on the relationship between personality traits and artistic interests (McAdams. rapidity. fear. and creative and intellectual types of work (McAdams. & Repp. Rousseau and Gosselin (2001) reported that 5-year-old children are able to discriminate between happiness and sadness using information about tempo. However. for example because of permanent blindness or situationally restricted vision. A survey of the emotion ratings made by music professionals demonstrated that all of the six basic emotions seem to be represented in Western art music. 1993).sagepub. classical. 2012 . fear. Most seem to conclude that openness (O) is the most relevant trait. (2008) reported that happiness. in accordance with Tomkins (1963). This notion is important regarding individuals whose visual recognition of emotions is impaired. The present study aims to extend the work of Vielliard et al. 2003) revealed a robust underlying personality structure of preferences. There is some evidence that we tend to focus on the emotional tone of the voice rather than the verbal content of the message in cases where these modes of communication are incongruent (Powers & Trevarthen. although happiness and sadness are probably much more common as musical themes than – in decreasing order of importance – anger.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30.and loudness-manipulated excerpts of Western art music (Resnicow. most of the studies on emotion recognition in music have concentrated on a very limited number of emotions.504 Psychology of Music 39(4) Ekman suggests. Rawlings and Ciancarelli (1997) reported that high levels of extraversion (E) corresponds to a preference for popular music (such as pop. Moreover. 2006). in that individuals high in O tend to value fantasies. 2004). the recipient may be unsure of what to believe if the verbal content of the message diverges from the emotional content being transmitted. A series of six studies (Rentfrow & Gosling. who may still be able to judge the emotional content of their communication partners through characteristics of speech. 2001). Salovey. for example if the message ‘Everything is OK’ is spoken in a shrill.
this study did not present the participants with sound stimuli to be classified.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30. 1992). To the best of our knowledge. 18 music therapy students. This study demonstrated that these six emotions were identifiable in musical stimuli. 505 with E.. Extravert individuals may prefer upbeat music with a fast tempo in order to provide strong stimulation of a brain characterized by relativelylow baseline arousal. only one study exists on the influence of personality traits on musical emotions classification accuracy. and 20 control subjects). 2012 . the present study aims to put these preliminary results on a more secure footing by testing a larger number of participants as well as investigating the effects of personality traits on the identification of emotions. Kopacz (2005) found that. Therefore. and that there was no significant difference in detection accuracy between music therapy students and controls without musical or psychological training (Busch et al. and a preference for reflective and complex (often instrumental) music was related to O.. It is therefore possible that E may bias individuals into overestimating the presence of positive emotional stimuli. high levels of E seem to correlate with social competence and the ability to predict and detect emotional reactions in others (Costa & McCrae. extraverted individuals preferred fast tempos. while introvert people. However. 2003). Hence. and no listening procedure took place. Not only preferences for broad genres of music but also for musical elements and structure may be influenced by personality traits. the investigation of the relationship between personality traits and emotion recognition in musical segments previously unknown to the participants seems warranted. both extraverted and open-minded and creative individuals tended to prefer a high number of melodic themes. Due to the exploratory nature of this study.sagepub. In addition. may prefer calmer music in order to enjoy themselves. A pilot study was used to validate the use of 18 musical segments (described later) for studies of perception of emotions in music. The present study will therefore investigate the effect of personality traits on the ability to classify emotional stimuli. 1992). Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2007) reported that. The sample size of the pilot study (Busch et al. Individuals high in O may prefer complex music simply due to their being creative and intellectual. assumed to display enhanced cortical activity at baseline. music preference may reflect aspects of personality (North & Hargreaves.Mohn et al. there seems to be a general tendency for individuals high in E to emphasize positive affective experiences (Costa & McCrae. 2008). one should expect individuals high in E to perform well on tests of emotion perception. Moreover. no specific hypotheses were formulated. In this respect. North and Hargreaves (2008) noted that different types of music may compensate for certain aspects of an individual’s personality.. Rationale of the present study In order to explore the possibility of six basic emotions being recognized in acoustic stimulation unknown to the participants. 2003) was relatively small (eight patients with mental illness. Moreover. regardless of genre. The following research questions were asked: (1) Are the six basic universal emotions perceivable in music unknown to the listeners?. (2) Are personality traits related to the perception of six basic universal emotions in music? Downloaded from pom. However. 2003). while high neuroticism (N) was correlated with the self-reported tendency to use music for mood regulation rather than intellectual stimulation. no trait correlated with the self-reported ability to classify musical styles and composers correctly. the German Center of Music Therapy Research developed a test of emotion perception in music (Busch et al.
4) a Numbers in mean. Demographic characteristic and data on music education and listening habits are presented in Table 1. Popular music: rock. This study was approved by the Regional Committee for Research Ethics (REK-Sør). Germany.506 Psychology of Music 39(4) Methods Subjects and procedure The participants were 115 undergraduate and graduate students (N = 41. The entire session.7% 80. The segments. disgust. Every performer was instructed to improvise short musical pieces on the six basic emotions in a way that a listener should be able to decode the intended emotion. University of Oslo.2) years 6. Demography and music habits of the participants Agea Years of music instruction as child/youtha Listening to music 2–6 times / week Daily Preference for music type Classical Popular Both classical and popular Number of concerts attended last 12 monthsa 24. This procedure led to a great variety of possible improvisations. The sound volume at the position of the participants was kept constant at 60 dB. Twenty-four music segments (six trial segments and 18 test segments) were composed by members of the academic staff at the German Center for Music Therapy Research in Heidelberg. Classical music: classical and opera music. 2003). jazz. happiness. 2012 .7 (SD 7. and hip hop music.1 (SD 5. 64. techno. all tonal.7% males. They made no account for their choice.9% 8. N = 74. For the remaining musical excerpts. The segments broadly represent classical or jazz music. Exclusion criteria were (self-reported) hearing loss and inability to understand spoken and written Norwegian. consisting of the music emotion test and the questionnaire completion.9% 11. The participants were tested individually or in groups of up to four in a non-soundproof classroom at the Department of Psychology. lasted one hour.7% 30. and were recorded in a studio. percussionist. The music segments were played on a ghetto blaster placed on a table that was 3 metres from the participants. distinctiveness and typicality Table 1. Test of emotion perception in music The current test of perception of emotions in music was the same as the one used in our pilot study (Busch et al.4% 60.3 (SD 16.3% females) recruited through advertisements and email lists at the University of Oslo. surprise. the subjects filled in questionnaires on demography and personality traits. sadness. The performers played their favourite instruments out of a free choice of instruments. Downloaded from pom. After the musical emotion test. The musical stimuli were provided by three musicians (pianist. and fear. 35. were intended to represent the six basic emotions. blues.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30.1) years 15. pop. and cellist) and four music therapists. Stimuli not fulfilling the formal criteria (for example lasted more than 10 seconds or were of pure acoustic quality with no melodic line) were eliminated. and all participants signed consent forms prior to the test.sagepub.. lasting 10 minutes (see later). anger.
subdued timbre. low pitch. several variations with changing expression and emphasis Hard touch. strong timbre. low volume. jumping ascending dynamics. low pitch. rapidly ascending tempo. staccato. crescendo Weak touch. loud volume. The recorded material was transferred from the hard disc recorder to two computers. broad timbre. slow tempo ‘Schreeching’. All participants listened to the same CD and were thus exposed to the segments in the same order. one hard disc recorder. ascending volume. subdued ascending and descending tones. strong vibrato. tempo. no dissonances Major mode. dance-like 3/4 rhythm. Apart from the musical instruments. low volume. medium volume. slow tempo with large variations is described only for those segments that a clear major or minor melody is identifiable Downloaded from pom. The participants were instructed to try to classify each segment as one of six emotions Table 2. loud volume.Mohn et al. low pitch. medium volume. The segments were transferred to a compact disc (CD) with the order of presentation randomized (Table 2).com by Oana Bogdan on October 30. diminuendo Rapid. rapid tempo Minor mode. 2012 .sagepub. ‘shivering’ vibrato. short intervals between tones. from crescendo to decrescendo Major mode. slow tempo. weak touch. broad expression. There was a 10-second pause between each segment. light. staccato. loud volume Major mode. staccato. unregular vibrato. dissonant harmony Short tones. low volume. medium volume. This led to the final set of segments. ascending melody. and edited in a digital sound studio. medium volume. and dynamics Staccato. 507 were rated by the improvising performers and additionally by five trained music therapists. fast tempo Legato. rapid tempo Minor mode. jumping. high volume. weak touch. staccato. fast tempo Vivid expression. jumping ascending melody. ascending and descending movements Very rapid touch. staccato. the equipment consisted of two large-diaphragm microphones. medium volume Minor mode. vivid expression. Characteristics of the musical segments (N = 115) Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 aMode Emotion Fear 1 Happiness 1 Sadness 1 Disgust 1 Anger 1 Surprise 1 Sadness 2 Disgust 2 Fear 2 Anger 2 Surprise 2 Happiness 2 Surprise 3 Disgust 3 Fear 3 Happiness 3 Anger 3 Sadness 3 Duration 4 seconds 3 seconds 5 seconds 5 seconds 3 seconds 4 seconds 5 seconds 5 seconds 4 seconds 3 seconds 4 seconds 5 seconds 3 seconds 3 seconds 5 seconds 5 seconds 5 seconds 5 seconds Instrument Cello Tuba Electric bass Violin Piano Electric bass French horn Cello Guitar Tuba Piano Guitar French horn Electric bass Tuba Piano Cello Piano Musical characteristics Short. crescendo Major mode.a stepwise intervals. consonant harmony Uncontrolled tones in rapid succession. large intervals. and a mixing board.
agreeableness. Norwegian version by Martinsen. They were asked to state: (1) whether they had received music instruction on childhood or youth and whether they were still singing or playing an instrument (if so. In order to test whether there were statistically significant differences in classification rate across the three segments of each emotion. The participants were allowed to state several preferences. the subjects familiarized themselves with the task by trying to identify one segment each of the six emotions. or ‘I like being surrounded by people’. These analyses revealed that anger 1 was significantly more difficult to classify than anger 2 and anger 3 (F =  14. for example ‘I am not a person that worries’. Chi-square tests. Demographic characteristics and music preferences After the musical emotion test. (2) how often they listened to music at home.sagepub. or rock. and conscientiousness. blues. which type of instrument and number of years of instruction). techno. jazz. extraversion. pop. Downloaded from pom. 2012 . and correlation analyses were two-tailed.508 Psychology of Music 39(4) and to mark the most appropriate emotion category on a questionnaire. p < .9% of the cases. was used in this study. and by ratings by peers and spouses (Wiggins. Preference for music could be classical instrumental music and opera (referred to as the category ‘classical music’). Responses are made on a five-point Likert scale ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. both classical and popular music were preferred (Table 1). Perception of musical emotions Percentages of correct and incorrect classification of musical emotions in the 18 segments are given in Table 3. It is reported to have high reliability and validity. consisting of 240 items. (3) number of concerts they had attended during the last 12 months. p < . p < .001).92. Personality traits The revised version of the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R. The items of the questionnaire are presented as statements. by self-ratings. and in 60. All three segments of surprise were significantly different from each other in terms of classification accuracy (F =  56. and has been validated both cross-culturally. and hip hop music (referred to as the category ‘popular music’). They were informed that they had to make a decision and that they had to choose only one emotion for each segment. Nordvik. 2003) was administered to assess the personality traits neuroticism. and music experiences and preferences. The full version of the NEO-PI-R.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30. release 14.27. 1996). Disgust 1 was significantly easier to classify correctly than the other two examples of this emotion (F =  32.001). openness. 1992. and (4) which type of music they preferred. t-tests. The entire musical emotions test procedure lasted 10 minutes. Results All statistical tests were conducted using SPSS for Windows. Costa & McCrae. Fear 3 was significantly more difficult to classify as the other to fear segments (F  = 76.001). repeated measures analysis of variances (ANOVAs) with post-hoc comparisons were performed with scores calculated as percentage correct hits. Before the test. 001). p < . age. general education. the participants filled in a form with questions regarding gender.87. & Østbø.59. The NEO-PI-R is one of the most widely-used personality inventories. These trial segments were different from the segments used in the test.
01).69.9% 0.8% Surprise 15.0% 3. 2012 .01) and disgust (c2  = 5. p < . Perception of musical emotions: indices (N = 115) Musical emotion index Happiness Anger Disgust Surprise Sadness Fear Mean (SD) percent 82.6% 1.7) % 41.2% 13.6) % 87.0) % 58.3% 20. disgust 3 was significantly misclassified as sadness (c2  = 7.0% 70.2% 100% 95. The numbers may not add to 100% because of rounding.9% 0.0% 0.6% 47.0) % 47.3% 7. This procedure revealed that anger 1 was significantly misclassified as surprise (c2  = 4.0% 1.5% 0.9% 5.0 (24.0% 0.7% 1.0% 0.9) % Note: Each index represents the mean accuracy detection score of three musical segments.6% 3.2% 7.6% 0.14. Table 3. such as instances where anger is incorrectly perceived as fear.2% 3.3% 52.1% 6.0% 0.8% 6.0% 0.0% 83.0% 75.3% 16.5% 93. Non-bold numbers represent false hits.9% 25.05).Mohn et al.0% 7. p < . Downloaded from pom.0% 0.5% 5.5% 0.0% 8. Recognition and confusion of emotion in musical segments (N = 115) Perceived emotion Happiness Expressed emotion Happiness 1 Happiness 2 Happiness 3 Anger 1 Anger 2 Anger 3 Disgust 1 Disgust 2 Disgust 3 Surprise 1 Surprise 2 Surprise 3 Sadness 1 Sadness 2 Sadness 3 Fear 1 Fear 2 Fear 3 70.2% 78.1% Note: Bold numbers represent the accuracy of perceived emotion.0% 0.5% 24.0% 13.7% 2.2) % 43. Visual inspection of Table 3 suggests that confusions of classification. p < .7% 7.92.8 (27.0% 1. and that fear 3 was significantly misclassified as both anger (c2  = 8.7% 19.9% Anger 2.7% 0.0% 65.sagepub.9% 0.8% 0. A repeated measures ANOVA revealed that happiness Table 4.8% 38.0% 14.0% 0.0% 0.9% 0.0% 0.0 (18.7% 2.0% 0.7% 15.7% 3.7% Sadness 3.4% 11.6% 28.0% 8.6 (22.0% 1.0% 0.0% 9.1% 11.53.7% 46.0% 2.3 (22.0 % 0.3% 0.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30.9% 0.2% 30.3% Disgust 7.1% 0.7% 3. Chisquare analyses were performed on the nominal data representing the scores of the test.9% 0.0% 4.5% 0.7% 16.5% 1.05).5% 41.7% 34.0% 5.2% 7.1% 47.0% 0.7% 3.4% 32.2% 509 Fear 0.5% 30.2% 59.0% 0.5% 83.9% 3.7% 3.0% 0.6% 0.0% 0. Therefore.0% 80.9 (25.1% 2.0% 0. comparing correct hits with false hits.4% 25.5% 7. may be statistically significant. p < .9% 0. Next the three musical segments representing each emotion were combined into six musical emotion indices by simple aggregation and the results of the identification accuracy given in percentage correct answers (Table 4).
and A (β = . a series of correlation analyses were run aiming to test the relationship between the number of concerts attended in the last 12 months and the musical emotion indices. one of the six musical emotion indices was the dependent variable.001).sagepub.14. in most cases well above chance level. When running logistic regression tests on the three items of the happiness index. Personality traits and perception of musical emotions Hierarchical regression analyses were used to test the association between personality traits and the classification of musical emotions. Therefore. surprise. and the five personality traits of NEO-PI-R (Costa & McCrae.. Vieillard.14. Discussion The main finding was that the participants were able to identify six basic universal emotions in completely unknown musical stimuli. In addition. indicating that some of the musical stimuli should be altered or substituted in order to convey the intended emotion in a better way.28. p < . E. Madurell. we have replicated the results of a pilot study (Busch et al. others (Bigand. p < . Marozeau. p < . happiness was as easy to classify correctly as sadness was (F =  84.28. Thus. there was great variability in the means of percentage recognition. p < . it was revealed that only happiness 1 (played by a tuba) was related to years of music instruction (β = . Moreover. and this relationship was not studied further in regression analyses. The results yielded no effects of gender in the ability to classify musical emotions. 2003) with a larger number of participants. Pearson’s correlation analyses of the association between musical instruction in childhood/youth and the emotion indices revealed a statistically significant relationship between years of music instruction and the classification of happiness (r = . & Dacquet. Perception of musical emotions The participants of the present study correctly classified the emotional content of unknown musical stimuli. with happiness and sadness easier to classify correctly than the other emotions. and fear the least Downloaded from pom. putting the previous findings on a more secure footing.28. The number of females was significantly higher than the number of males (c2  = 9. This procedure revealed a significant contribution of O to the perception of happiness when O was entered in combination with N and E (β = . 2003).01)... In the present study as well as in the pilot study (Busch et al. Although our previous study did not find significantly different detection accuracy between music therapy students and controls without musical training (Busch et al. 2012 . p < . respectively. 1992) were the independent variables.01).510 Psychology of Music 39(4) and sadness were significantly easier to classify correctly than the other four emotions. p < . Finally.47.01). the ability to perceive emotions in music was not more than marginally related to music instruction in childhood or youth and the personality trait openness (O). In each regression model. 2005) have reported a small effect due to musical experience. and disgust. 2003). These tests generated no statistically significant results. sadness and happiness were more readily identifiable than the other emotions. a series of independent-samples t-tests with gender as the grouping variable and the indices as dependent variables were run.01) and N.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30. Therefore.01).
even though they were unknown to the participants.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30. as Western music traditionally has been used for individual enjoyment or to foster social cohesiveness (Kallinen. Anger 1 was often mistaken for surprise. In this respect. 2005). as evidenced by recognition rates of facial emotions rarely reaching 100% (Ekman. 1993). 511 identifiable. such as loudness. surprise may be difficult to identify musically because this emotion may be regarded as both positive and negative (Kallinen. who argues that sadness and happiness are the emotions most often expressed in Western art music. anger 1 did not contain the relatively large variations in tone duration that may be an additional prerequisite for anger to be expressed in music (Gabrielsson & Juslin. staccato articulation. Alternatively. However. due to their fairly consistent different characteristics in terms of mode and tempo. the classification of disgust may be difficult because this emotion is unexpected within the framework of Western tonality. Both fear and anger are elicited in dangerous situations requiring rapid action. variation in tone duration is not necessary for anger to be perceived providing the other characteristics are present. This line of thought may account for the present difficulty in classifying fear and anger correctly. 1996). 2005). Scherer (2004) argued that the tendency for cognitive appraisal of aesthetics renders the musical experience an inherently subjective and private one. an emotion that is not necessarily negative. one may assume that the ability to classify emotions through sound is a characteristic of all humans. 1994). In addition. According to Juslin (2001).Mohn et al. as listening to music is a pleasurable activity Downloaded from pom. disgust. Sadness and happiness are relatively easy to express musically. in such situations is so important to our survival that it is difficult for us to ponder the finer points separating the strong. which are either negative or positive emotions. However. the evolutionary purpose of emotions may offer an explanation. and a fast mean tempo. These results are consonant with those of Kallinen (2005). but postulates that cultural factors contribute to the recognition and display of emotions. this may be the result of the fear and anger segments sharing several musical elements. for example anger being misclassified as fear. they were most often mistaken for another negative emotion. and changes in dynamic. Possibly. and that more subtle.sagepub. strong emotions similar to those exhibited by the human face. These characteristics could easily be perceived in anger 1. but that the recognition rate will be highest when the relevant sound stimuli contain certain aspects characteristic of one’s particular cultural auditory environment. changing feelings are associated with music to a much larger degree than is a fixed set of categories of emotions with strong action tendencies. their emotional content may have been recognized because the participants were all Westerners familiar with Western tonality. it must be kept in mind that the musical segments of the present study were based on Western tonality. universal. Possibly. this possibility does not preclude an interpretation of the present study in terms of the neuro-cultural theory of emotion (Ekman & Friesen. In cases where the recognition rate was less than 50% for the negative emotions anger. rapid tempo. In contrast to sadness and happiness. If each facial emotion may be expressed by sound (Ekman. such as fight or flight. Perhaps rapid action. and fear. 1971). Moreover. 2005). A different explanation may come from those claiming that music is incapable of inducing or conveying all the discrete. most Westerners learn at an early age to associate slow music in the minor mode with sorrow and faster music in the major mode with joy due to the large amount of exposure such pieces of music get relative to pieces expressing other emotions or pieces with less clear-cut emotional content (Kallinen. These emotions may simply not be detected in a musical context because they are not expected. negative emotions. This theory is not completely universalistic. 2012 . anger may be expressed musically through a high sound level.
The facial emotions are spatial. Participants who had received music instruction in childhood or youth were significantly better at classifying one of the happiness segments. it is not possible to conclude that the present study provides definitive support for the theory that the perception of emotions in music is best viewed within a universalistic. 1992. and the tuba usually enters orchestral pieces during forte segments or when the composer wishes to emphasize the bass line. A third explanation may be that emotions are as easily recognizable in music as in facial expressions. On the other hand. According to Juslin (2000). in the absence of studies of the relationship between the timbre of a large number of instruments and the emotions perceived in the listeners. 2004) have demonstrated that. others (Juslin & Laukka.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30. Compared to other instruments. 2012 . 1992. for example. Ekman. may require stimuli of longer duration to be identified. but that this first version of the test contains items that are not sufficiently representative of the emotions they intend to express. 2003). while experienced musicians may have learned to pay more attention to the mode and tempo of the segment instead of the instrument on which it is performed. This segment was played by a tuba. 2008). the basic emotions. Therefore. and it is possible that music played by this instrument is somewhat difficult to interpret emotionally for musical novices. According to Ekman (1993). and mode. music has a prominent temporal characteristic and is perceived as a sequence of sounds relating to each other. the tuba features prominently in brass band music. loudness. there are very few pieces written for tuba solo. as our participants were instructed to do. In contrast. which normally range from 97% (happiness) to 67% (anger) (Ekman. In this respect. 1992) and musical emotional stimuli. this explanation remains speculative. Hence. One explanation may be that emotion is more difficult to identify in acoustic than in visual stimuli. emotions with less strong action tendencies. the tuba could be associated with joyful experiences. In our study. and fear are recognizable in musical segments of less than 4 seconds in duration (Vieillard et al. Moreover. categorical framework. Happiness. they seemed to have been exposed to a large variety of music genres and were presumably able to determine the emotional effects of different musical cues.sagepub. A second possible explanation concerns the different characteristics of facial emotion stimuli (Ekman. where many children and teenagers receive extra-curricular music instruction in school bands. However. were more frequently chosen as examples of what music may express. Elfenbein & Ambady. 2003). and we are immediately able to perceive the totality of the face and the characteristics of the different facial structures producing the emotional expression. including anger and fear. While there is evidence that happiness. was in line with studies of facial emotions (87%. as the visual system is the most advanced of the human senses. it is possible Downloaded from pom. the emotion-expressing aspects of timbre is not well explored (Gabrielsson & Lindström. however. 2001). In this respect. is conveyed facially by increased muscular activity around the lips and eyes. the music preferences of the present participants seemed broad. giving examples of emotions that may be expressed in music in general is not the same thing as having to judge the emotional content of a specific piece of music one is hearing for the first time. most musical novices may have learned to associate the timbre of the tuba with darker or perhaps scary musical segments. a popular genre in Norway. in that most of them stated a preference for both classical and popular music. The accuracy of recognition of the emotion indices in our study was less than typically found in studies of facial emotions. Elfenbein & Ambady. sadness. In contrast to tempo. The accuracy of sadness recognition. Thus. relative to more complex affective states.512 Psychology of Music 39(4) for most people. On the other hand. each emotion correlates with unique physiological responses. for example surprise.. the maximum length of a musical segment was 5 seconds.
such as mode. Strengths. Despite the strengths of the study. the musical segments were based on the Western tonal system. In this light. Fourth. and fear are readily detected in spoken messages (Laukka. timbre.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30. sadness. 2006). providing a well-established framework for the interpretation of the data and contributing to the theoretical economy by systematizing future research efforts in this field. certain limitations must be kept in mind when interpreting our results. and dynamics. due to our choice of mostly acoustic instruments and improvisations within the tonal system. personality traits are much more relevant for music preferences than for emotion detection accuracy in musical stimuli (Rentfrow & Gosling. although Ekman (1993) postulates that each emotion expressed by the face may be expressed through sound. Therefore. in that O denotes a tendency to creativity and intellectual curiosity. this interpretation remains tentative. Second. to the best of our knowledge. the ultimate consequence of this line of reasoning would be that one could never avoid associative emotional responses to test stimuli. of the stimuli that uniquely relate to disgust and surprise. be less related to the need for rapid communication. A future task for our laboratory is to identify the parameters. anger. 513 to isolate musical parameters that symbolize happiness. Studies of the emotional content of non-verbal vocal stimuli have. future studies of this test should ask the participants to report whether the sound clips reminded them of something they had heard before. our stimuli may not be regarded as truly unknown. volume. 2012 . First.Mohn et al. his focus is the human voice. Possibly. not been undertaken. The relationship between personality traits and perception of musical emotions There was only a weak association between personality traits and the recognition of musical emotions. sadness. However. 1971). There is evidence that happiness. limitations. The expression of emotion though art music may. However. fear. Individuals with high levels of O may be better able to identify emotions simply because they tend to possess prominent intellectual skills (McAdams. 2003). in the absence of other studies in this field. and anger. In order to control for this possibility. It may be argued that. and future studies One strength of the present study is its connection to the neuro-cultural theory of emotion (Ekman & Friesen. this test may not be suited for cross-cultural research on the Downloaded from pom. it may be harder to identify the emotional content in instrumental music than in facial expressions.sagepub. tempo. our test is a clear improvement in the field of musical emotions research in that it attempts to reduce the influence of the associations the participants carry with them. Due to the large cultural variations in musical expressions. in this perspective. the sound clips would automatically create associations to classical music and thus evoke emotional memories of previous classical listening experiences in the participants. This is not unexpected. in which the emotional segments are sung rather than played. This is a potential problem for the cross-cultural study of musical emotions. rendering the study of emotional responses virtually impossible. in that O contributed significantly to the prediction of happiness when entered as an independent variable together with other personality traits. A way to test this hypothesis would be to develop a vocal version of the musical emotions test. we employed custom-made musical stimuli. 2005). In this respect. thus ruling out the effects of previously formed associative emotional responses to the items of the test.
our test should be employed in non-Western cultures in order for us to conclude that it assesses universal emotions. showed that this group readily recognized happiness. and if they remembered that they had classified sadness. 2006). and that the ability to do so does not seem to be influenced by musical experience or personality traits.. The participants knew that they had to choose between six emotions for each of the 18 stimuli. Western and Hindustani music (Balkwill. Conclusion In conclusion. 1999). it is possible that they felt compelled to perceive the 18th segment as sadness in order to create numerical balance. who had never been exposed to Western culture. are capable of classifying the different emotions correctly (Gabrielsson. 2009). and whether felt emotions influence the classification process. sadness. Nevertheless. Whether the order of presentation influences the perception of emotions using this test should be subject to further study. and anger in Hindustani ragas. Whether such possible confusions have a tendency to occur when taking this test. it should be mentioned that individuals. Similar data were obtained from a study of Japanese listeners detecting emotions in Japanese. and that the musical elements most relevant for this process were tempo. Moreover. are not topics of the present study. Likert scale approaches will be considered. where a true null hypothesis is rejected. there were several statistical tests performed with a relatively small sample. A study of individuals from the African Mafa population. However. in some cases. & Matsunaga.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30. it is possible that. In order to provide a clearer picture of classification difficulties as a part of further development of the musical emotions test. melodic complexity. a recent investigation suggests that confusion of expressed and felt emotions in music may be modest and not pose a grave challenge for research in this field (Vieillard et al. and emotion recognition indices. Second. although they tend to feel positive emotions more strongly than negative emotions induced by music. This point seems particularly relevant regarding the somewhat scattered results of the analyses of associations between musical education experience. there is evidence that humans are able to recognize the intended emotions in music from unfamiliar cultures. and emotion perception should be interpreted with caution. but may have led to higher recognition rates for emotions that may be relatively hard to classify. such as disgust or anger. 2008). the results from this first major study of this musical emotions test suggest that the six basic universal emotions are detectable in musical stimuli. Fifth. It is not inconceivable that this may have generated biased results regarding the classification of the last segments. Kallinen & Ravaja. This increases the risk of Type I error. the forced-choice method employed in the current study is a natural choice with a categorical emotions approach as a theoretical point of departure. sadness. the participants may have identified the emotion they felt rather than the one the music expressed. Third. Thompson.sagepub. personality. Fourth. and timbre. only twice. This suggests that our findings of statistically significant associations between theoretical background. Downloaded from pom. and fear in Western art music as well as in their own traditional music (Fritz et al. Balkwill and Thompson (1999) reported that Western listeners successfully identified joy. personality traits.. Nevertheless. for example. the order of presentation of the 18 musical segments was identical for all participants. 2012 .514 Psychology of Music 39(4) acoustic recognition of emotions. 2002. although we instructed our participants to report the emotions they recognized in the musical stimuli and not the emotions those stimuli evoked in them.
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Currently. 2012 . 517 Heike Argstatter is a clinical psychologist as well as a music historian. she is a postdoctoral research fellow at the German Center of Music Therapy Research in Heidelberg.sagepub.Mohn et al. SRH University of Applied Sciences in Heidelberg. Friedrich-Wilhelm Wilker is a clinical psychologist and currently professor of medical psychology at the Faculty for Music Therapy. Downloaded from pom. Her main research interests are music therapy in tinnitus and other neurological disorders. His other areas of interest are general psychotherapy and music therapy.com by Oana Bogdan on October 30.
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