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Span J Psychol. 2015 Jul 20;18:E54. doi: 10.1017/sjp.2015.53.

Emotional Dimensions of Music and Painting and their Interaction.

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Universidad Complutense (Spain).
Conservatorio Profesional de Música de Alicante (Spain).
Universitat Illes Balears (Spain).
University of Tübingen (Germany).


Usually it is accepted that human manifestations such as music or painting share a common artistic trait. However, very little is known about the genetic, behavioral, developmental and neurobiological basis of such a musical-pictorial "universal". In an attempt to approach commonalities and differences between the psychology of music and pictorial art in Experiment 1 we investigated the emotional dimensions valence and arousal in a large sample (N =156, M age = 21,44 years, SD = 3,89 years, range = 16-35 years) using a representative selection of musical and pictorial artistic stimuli. We found a stronger variability of valence and arousal with paintings and stronger effects of music on valence. In Experiment 2 (N =202, M age = 21,35 years, SD = 3,57 years, range = 16-35 years) we present first quantitative data on the interaction between the two artistic categories of stimuli on a behavioral level, again observing effects of pictorial art and music on valence and arousal. Furthermore in Experiment 2 we replicated a more pronounced effect of music on the valence of pictures, particularly on positive valence the results of the ANOVA showed an increase in group A2: F(1, 120) = 6.23, p < .05, in group C2: F(1, 120) = 89.03, p < .001, and a surprisingly emotionally negative influence of pleasant paintings on the positive valence of music, group A1: F(1, 127) = 19.69, p < .001. Despite the unresolved problem of non-representativeness of the stimuli and the sample selected these results may suggest superior emotional "power" of music over painting.


arousal; art universals; emotional responses; music; painting; valence

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