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Scand J Psychol. 1997 Mar;38(1):45-53.

Liking, arousal potential, and the emotions expressed by music.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Leicester, U.K.


Previous research indicates that the specific emotions expressed by stimuli may be closely associated with their pleasing and arousing qualities, and this parallels psychomusicological research on the relationship between these two stimulus qualities. In light of this, the present research contends that the emotions expressed by musical stimuli are associated with their pleasing and arousing qualities. Sixty subjects rated 32 musical excerpts on 11-point scales representing the expression of eight specific emotions. Statistical analyses showed that these emotion ratings were predictable on the basis of 60 additional subjects' ratings of each excerpt in terms of 'liking' and 'arousal potential'. This indicates that ratings of liking and arousal potential are essentially similar to ratings of the specific emotions expressed by musical stimuli. These results are discussed in terms of the relationship between liking and arousal potential, and the implications that this may have for research on affective processes.

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