Cares Act funding information-->

Apply now Alumni | Give to BC | Athletics | Fine Arts | Moodle | Thresher Connect | Search


Emotional Responses to Music: Influence of Psycho-Acoustical Features

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
Kristine Thimm


This study examined the relationship between music-elicited emotion and the psycho-acoustical features of music. Previous research has shown differences between emotions elicited by different musical selections. This study, however, looks at dynamic ratings of emotion throughout the duration of a selection. Fifteen participants continuously rated each of ten musical excerpts (jazz, classical, 17th-20th century). A LabVIEW instrument recorded the second-by-second ratings in a two-dimensional space of pleasantness and activation. PsySound (Cabrera, 2000) was used to analyze the excerpts for changes in psycho-acoustical features, providing second-by-second measures of dissonance, sharpness, multiplicity, tonalness, and volume. These changes were then correlated with mean changes in emotion for each excerpt. Cross correlation analysis showed that musical feature predictors of emotional responses varied greatly between excerpts. Activation was predicted by dissonance in one excerpt (r = 0.708 uncorrected for autocorrelation) but by loudness in another (r = 0.521). Tonalness predicted pleasantness in one excerpt (r = 0.634) but multiplicity did so in another (0.567). Other features showed lower correlations, perhaps due to low variance in the feature or the overriding influence of more prominent features. Variations in tempo and rhythmic complexity may also be important in eliciting emotion but were not measured in this study.

Related file


About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.