Beyond valence and activity in the emotional connotations of music

  • Collier G
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Abstract

In the scaling of emotions in general, and their application to music in particular, the valence (good/bad) and activity or arousal dimensions are ubiquitous. Naive intuition and critics' writings have assumed a greater profundity in music's ability to express emotions than this would imply. Five experiments were performed to show that music is capable of expressing a greater detail in emotional range than can be captured by these two dimensions. The basic paradigm had participants rank order sets of emotions with respect to how well they applied to brief, unfamiliar instrumental selections. People did so rapidly, with significant reliability, even when the affective compass of the emotions to be ranked was restricted to enforce attention to subtle withindimension distinctions, or expanded to allow attention to subtle distinctions.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Arousal
  • Emotion
  • Experimental aesthetics
  • Music
  • Two-dimensional space
  • Valence

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Authors

  • Geoffrey L. Collier

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