Recognition is different from feeling: experimental evidence for two different types of emotional processes in music using a between-subjects design in a web experiment

Hauke Egermann, Stephen McAdams

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


BACKGROUND AND AIMS According to Gabrielsson (2002), perceived emotions may differ from felt emotions induced by the music. Listeners might recognize an emotional expression in music that is not induced automatically. For example, a sad song does not always make listeners feel sad, even if this emotional expression is recognized. Gabrielsson describes different relations between those emotion types: In a positive relation, the emotion expressed is similarly felt by the listener. The negative relation describes the opposite: The piece's contrary emotion is induced. In a non-systematic relation, the expression elicits either no emotion or a different emotion from the one expressed, or with no relationship, an emotion is induced in the listener although there was no recognizable emotional expression. Previous experimental evidence using within-subject designs suggests that both types of emotional processes are significantly different (Kallinen Ravaja, 2006). The first aim of our study was to determine whether differences between felt and recognized emotions in music are significant in a between-subjects design. Second, we examined which factors modulate the relations between the two types of emotional processes (preference, empathy, and familiarity). We used a web-based experiment because of its advantage over lab experiments and its proven validity to test emotional responses to music (Egermann, et al., 2009). METHOD As a cover story, the study was implemented in an online music-personality test, in order to motivate participants to take part. Completing the whole study took about 10 minutes and at the end of the questionnaire participants were presented with personalized test results. The 3,164 participants were randomly assigned to 2 groups. All participants listened to 5 musical excerpts randomly selected from a set of 23 (30 sec each). After each excerpt, participants in group 1 rated recognized emotions in the music using arousal and valence dimensions, whereas group 2 rated induced emotions using the same rating dimensions. All participants also rated the intensity of empathy with the musicians heard, as well as the preference for and familiarity of each excerpt. RESULTS Data analyses suggest that significant differences exist between ratings of felt emotion and of recognized emotion. Furthermore, the intensity of arousal ratings was higher for recognized emotion ratings vs. felt emotion ratings. This difference did not occur for valence ratings. Pieces with a high average empathy rating more often induced an emotion similar to that emotion expressed (positive relation), whereas pieces with a low empathy rating more often resulted in a felt emotion opposite to the expressed emotion (negative relation). Across excerpts, empathy ratings were highly correlated to familiarity and preference ratings. CONCLUSIONS These results contribute to the understanding of emotional responses to music by underlining the importance of distinguishing between the two types of emotion-related processes (induction and recognition). Finally, explaining when positive relations occur might facilitate the understanding of the emotion-induction mechanism called ``emotional contagion'' (Juslin Västfjäll, 2008): People are only susceptible to emotional contagion with music that they like and know, which induces the emotion expressed in the music. REFERENCES Egermann, H., Nagel, F., Altenmüller, E., Kopiez, R. (2009). Continuous Measurement of Musically-Induced Emotion: A Web Experiment. International Journal of Internet Science, 4(1), 4--20. Gabrielsson, A. (2002). Emotion perceived and emotion felt: Same or different? Musicae Scientiae (Special Issue 2001-2002), 123--147. Juslin, P. N., Västfjäll, D. (2008). Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31(5), 559--575. Kallinen, K., Ravaja, N. (2006). Emotion perceived and emotion felt: Same and different. Musicae Scientiae, 10(2), 191--213.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 11th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC11). Seattle, Washington, USA.
EditorsS.M. Demorest, S.J. Morrison, P.S. Campbell
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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