Directing Affect Through Music

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This study is the first to provide an overview of music’s influence on physiology and serves as the foundation for the envisioned affective music player. It reports an experiment that investigates the effects of tempo (slow/ fast), mode (minor/ major), and percussiveness (low/ high) on the electrocardiogram (ECG), electrodermal activity (EDA), and on subjective reports, in a within-participant design. Using the subjective reports, we tested a revisited circumplex model of affect including arousal, positive and negative valence, and tension. Through the correlation between the physiological measures and the subjective reports the affect evoked by music was determined. Personality and music preference were measured to correct for individual differences. Results show that fast tempo and major mode music were reported with higher arousal and tension than slow tempo and minor mode music. No effect was found for percussiveness. The music characteristics are mutually dependent in modulating affect and are altered by gender, personality, and music preference. We found that the tension dimension was strongly correlated to the arousal dimension and that the two valence dimensions were independent. High correlations were found between the arousal and tension values and several physiological measures: the high frequency component of the power density spectrum of the heart rate signal (HR), the root mean square standard deviation of the HR, the kurtosis of the ECG, and the amount of electrodermal responses and the mean value of the EDA. Valence correlated strongest with the low frequency component of the power density spectrum and the standard deviation of the HRs, and the half recovery time of electrodermal responses and kurtosis of the EDA. The results of this study provide guidelines for the implementation of an affective music player that unobtrusively directs its user’s emotional state
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen