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Emotion. 2008 Aug;8(4):494-521. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.8.4.494.

Emotions evoked by the sound of music: characterization, classification, and measurement.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


One reason for the universal appeal of music lies in the emotional rewards that music offers to its listeners. But what makes these rewards so special? The authors addressed this question by progressively characterizing music-induced emotions in 4 interrelated studies. Studies 1 and 2 (n=354) were conducted to compile a list of music-relevant emotion terms and to study the frequency of both felt and perceived emotions across 5 groups of listeners with distinct music preferences. Emotional responses varied greatly according to musical genre and type of response (felt vs. perceived). Study 3 (n=801)--a field study carried out during a music festival--examined the structure of music-induced emotions via confirmatory factor analysis of emotion ratings, resulting in a 9-factorial model of music-induced emotions. Study 4 (n=238) replicated this model and found that it accounted for music-elicited emotions better than the basic emotion and dimensional emotion models. A domain-specific device to measure musically induced emotions is introduced--the Geneva Emotional Music Scale.

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