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II.2 Psychological Reality

II.2.1 (Mo Sept 20) Emotions and Music


LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Fans of classical music and jazz are creative, pop lovers are hardworking and, despite the stereotypes, heavy metal listeners are gentle, creative types who are at ease with themselves. So says Professor Adrian North of Scotland's Heriot-Watt University who has been studying the links between people's personalities and their choice of music.

„People often define their sense of identity through their musical taste, wearing particular clothes, going to certain pubs, and using certain types of slang,“ North said.

„It's not surprising that personality should also be related to musical preference.“

In what North said was the largest study ever conducted into individuals' musical preference and character, researchers asked 36,518 people from around the world to rate how much they liked 104 different musical styles before taking a personality test.

“Researchers have been showing for decades that fans of rock and rap are rebellious, and that fans of opera are wealthy and well-educated,“ North said.

„But this is the first time that research has shown that personality links to liking for a wide range of musical styles.“

The study concluded that jazz and classical music fans are creative with good self-esteem, although the former are much more outgoing whereas the latter are shy. Country and western fans were found to be hardworking and shy; rap fans are outgoing and indie lovers lack self-esteem and are not very gentle.

Those who like soul music can take heart as the research concluded they are creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease with themselves and have a high self-esteem. And if you've ever wondered why people driving expensive sports cars often have music blaring from their vehicle, North could have an explanation.

Those who choose to listen to exciting, punchy music are more likely to be in a higher earning bracket, he says, while those who go for relaxing sounds tend to be lower down the pay scale. North is still looking for volunteers to take part in the research.


John A. Sloboda & Patrik N. Juslin

(Music and Emotion, Oxford U P 2001, p.71)Psychology is concerned with the explanation of human behaviour. Behaviour includes overt action as well as ‚inner‘ behaviour, such as thought, emotion, and other reportable mental states. It can include behaviour of which the agent is not fully or even partly aware, such as the dilation of the pubils of the eye.

A psychological approach to music and emotion therefore seeks an explanation of how and why we experience emotional reactions to music, and how and why we experience music as expressive of emotion.

Gustav Klimt: Beethoven fries



Definition of Emotion




Two Dimensions of Emotions

(J.A. Russell et al. „circumplex model“)


Susan Langer and Alf Gabrielsson:

  • Langer (1942): - Music represents the dynamic form of emotional life, not specific emotions.- Music is a tonal analogue to emotive life.
  • Gabrielsson (1995):- There is an isomorphism between the structure of music and the structure of feelings.- In summary, we may consider emotion, motion, and music as being isomorphic.