Psychological and physiological correlates of expectation and emotion in a live concert experiment

Hauke Egermann, 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 will present preliminary results from a live flute concert experiment with 50 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, also emotions were measured using a multi-component approach: subjective feeling (valence and arousal rated continuously by the other half of audience members), expressive behavior (facial EMG) and peripheral arousal (with the latter two measured on all 50 participants). Results confirmed the relationship between high-information-content musical events, the violation of musical expectations (in corresponding ratings) and emotional reactions (psychologically and physiologically). Musical structures leading to expectation reactions were manifested in emotional reactions at different emotion component levels (subjective experience and sympathetic activations). 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 publicationAbstracts for the 51st Annual Meeting Society for Psychophysiological Research. Psychophysiology
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Cite this