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Stephen E. Palmer

Musiccolor associations are mediated by emotion


Stephen E. Palmer Author Af f iliations
Edited by Dale Purves, Duke-Natio nal University o f Singapo re Graduate Medical Scho o l, Singapo re, Singapo re, and appro ved April 1, 20 13 (received fo r review July 23, 20 12) a ,1

, Karen B. Schloss , Z oe Xu , and Lilia R. Prado-Len

Abstract
Experimental evidence demonstrates robust cross-modal matches between music and colors that are mediated by emotional associations. US and Mexican participants chose colors that were most/least consistent with 18 selections of classical orchestral music by Bach, Mozart, and Brahms. In both cultures, f aster music in the major mode produced color choices that were more saturated, lighter, and yellower whereas slower, minor music produced the opposite pattern (choices that were desaturated, darker, and bluer). T here were strong correlations (0.89 < r < 0.99) between the emotional associations
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of the music and those of the colors chosen to go with the music, supporting an emotional mediation hypothesis in both cultures. Additional experiments showed similarly robust cross-modal matches f rom emotionally expressive f aces to colors and f rom music to emotionally expressive f aces. T hese results provide f urther support that music-to-color associations are mediated by common emotional associations. color cognition cross-modal associations music cognition emotion mediation hypothesis

Footnotes
1

To who m co rrespo ndence sho uld be addressed. E-mail: palmer@co gsci.berkeley.edu.

Autho r co ntributio ns: S.E.P. and K.B.S. designed research; K.B.S., Z.X., and L.R.P.-L. perfo rmed research; S.E.P. and K.B.S. co ntributed new reagents/analytic to o ls; S.E.P., K.B.S., and Z.X. analyzed data; and S.E.P. and K.B.S. wro te the paper. The autho rs declare no co nflict o f interest. This article is a PNAS Direct Submissio n. This article co ntains suppo rting info rmatio n o nline at www.pnas.o rg/lo o kup/suppl/do i:10 .10 73/pnas.121256 2110 //DCSupplemental. *The co ncept o f emo tio n is no to rio usly difficult to define. Typical definitio ns identify emo tio ns as co nscio us feelings that have bo th physio lo gical and co gnitive co mpo nents, fo llo wed by a list o f pro to typical examples (e.g., fear, anger, jo y, and so rro w) with no bo undary co nditio ns to clarify less o bvio us po ssibilities. Emo tio nal asso ciatio ns are systematic co nnectio ns between emo tio ns and o ther mental states caused by experiences that are no t intrinsically emo tio nal, such as hearing music o r seeing co lo rs. As we use the term, emo tio nal asso ciatio ns may include co nscio us experiences o f feelings and/o r co gnitive co ntent that acco mpanies such feelings.

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Publishe d o nline be f o re print May 13, 20 13, do i: 10 .10 7 3/pnas.12125 6 2110 PNAS May 13, 20 13 Classif icat io ns So cial Sciences Psycho lo gical and Co gnitive Sciences

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