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EMAC 2023 Annual

Sounds of Emotion. Eliciting Positive, Negative or Mixed Emotional Impulses with Experimental Stimuli Based on Controlled Musical Composition

Published: May 24, 2023


Jana-Verena Gerhart, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz; Oliver Emrich, Johannes Gutenberg-Universit├Ąt Mainz


When music is used to induce emotion in experiments, researchers tend to rely on pre-existing pieces of music that are different for each manipulated emotion condition (Joseph et al., 2020). The resulting heterogeneity of the employed stimuli bears the risk that obtained differences between the emotional conditions are confounded by features other than emotion (e.g., cognitions or preferences associated with the stimuli). As a new contribution, we developed a musical composition in a positive, a negative, and a mixed emotional version. Each version varies on relevant musical, research-derived parameters to elicit the respective emotion, while its overall musical structure is kept constant, making the stimuli as homogeneous and controlled as possible. In two empirical studies (Noverall = 652), the stimuli are validated in evoking the intended emotional impulses, and each stimulus version is compared to a musical reference stimulus of the respective valence used in past research.