Expectation and Emotion in a Live Concert Experiment

Hauke Egermann, Marcus Pearce, Geraint Wiggins, Stephen McAdams

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We investigated the often theorized role of musical expectations in inducing listener's emotions and present results from a live flute concert experiment with 50 musically trained participants. Using the CIRMMT Audience Response System, we measured continuously subjective experience (using 50 wireless iPods) and peripheral psychophysiological changes. To confirm the existence of the link between expectation and emotion, we used a three-fold approach. (1) Based on an information-theoretic model, musical expectancies are predicted by analyzing the musical stimuli used (six pieces of solo flute music). (2) A continuous expectation rating scale was employed by half of the audience to measure the unexpectedness of the music heard. (3) Finally, emotions also were measured using a multi-component approach: subjective feeling (rated continuously by the other half of audience members), expressive behavior and peripheral arousal (both measured on all 50 participants). We predicted and observed a relationship between high-information-content musical events, the violation of musical expectations (in corresponding ratings) and continuously measured emotional reactions. Thus, musical structures leading to expectation reactions are also thought to be manifested in emotional reactions at different emotion component levels. These results emphasize the role of musical structures in emotion induction, leading to a further understanding of the frequently experienced emotional effects of music in everyday life.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationAbstract Book of the Meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition Rochester, New York 11.-14. August 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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