Psychophysiological indices of music-evoked emotions in musicians

Mattson Ogg, David R.W. Sears, Manuela M. Marin, Stephen McAdams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A NUMBER OF PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL MEASURES indexing autonomic and somatovisceral activation to music have been proposed in line with the wider emotion literature. However, attempts to replicate experimental findings and provide converging evidence for music-evoked emotions through physiological changes, overt expression, and subjective measures have had mixed success. This may be due to issues in stimulus and participant selection. Therefore, the aim of Experiment 1 was to select musical stimuli that were controlled for instrumentation, musical form, style, and familiarity. We collected a wide range of subjective responses from 30 highly trained musicians to music varying along the affective dimensions of arousal and valence. Experiment 2 examined a set of psychophysiological correlates of emotion in 20 different musicians by measuring heart rate, skin conductance, and facial electromyography during listening without requiring behavioral reports. Excerpts rated higher in arousal in Experiment 1 elicited larger cardiovascular and electrodermal responses. Excerpts rated positively in valence produced higher zygomaticus major activity, whereas excerpts rated negatively in valence produced higher corrugator supercilii activity. These findings provide converging evidence of emotion induction during music listening in musicians via subjective self-reports and psychophysiological measures, and further, that such responses are similar to emotions observed outside the musical domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-59
Number of pages22
JournalMusic Perception
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Arousal
  • Emotion
  • Measurement
  • Psychophysiology
  • Valence


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