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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 28;110(22):8836-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1212562110. Epub 2013 May 13.

Music-color associations are mediated by emotion.

Author information

1
Psychology Department, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. palmer@cogsci.berkeley.edu

Abstract

Experimental evidence demonstrates robust cross-modal matches between music and colors that are mediated by emotional associations. US and Mexican participants chose colors that were most/least consistent with 18 selections of classical orchestral music by Bach, Mozart, and Brahms. In both cultures, faster music in the major mode produced color choices that were more saturated, lighter, and yellower whereas slower, minor music produced the opposite pattern (choices that were desaturated, darker, and bluer). There were strong correlations (0.89 < r < 0.99) between the emotional associations of the music and those of the colors chosen to go with the music, supporting an emotional mediation hypothesis in both cultures. Additional experiments showed similarly robust cross-modal matches from emotionally expressive faces to colors and from music to emotionally expressive faces. These results provide further support that music-to-color associations are mediated by common emotional associations.

KEYWORDS:

color cognition; cross-modal associations; emotion mediation hypothesis; music cognition

PMID:
23671106
PMCID:
PMC3670360
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1212562110
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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