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Emotional Word Priming Effects on Emotional Reactions to Music

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
Jeff Janzen


Emotionally charged subliminal word stimuli may affect conscious and unconscious emotional responses to music. A variation of Naccache’s method (2005) was used to present emotionally positive or negative words (Bradley & Lang, 1999) to volunteer undergraduate students as subconscious priming stimuli before a music listening task. Electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings showed significant immediate effects of the valence of the word (positive or negative) at site Fz (p=0.027, Bonferroni-corrected for multiple comparisons across time), nearly significant effects at site P4 (p=0.092, similarly corrected), and nearly significant effects on EEG recorded during the music task. Participant self-reported emotions were opposite in valence from the subliminal word and opposite of the effects evident in EEG recordings. This suggests a disparity between conscious and unconscious emotions.

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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.