This article is part of the Research Topic Expression of emotion in music and vocal communication

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 01 October 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00675

Effects of voice on emotional arousal

Psyche Loui1,2*, Justin P. Bachorik1, H. Charles Li1 and Gottfried Schlaug1
  • 1Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2Department of Psychology, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, USA

Music is a powerful medium capable of eliciting a broad range of emotions. Although the relationship between language and music is well documented, relatively little is known about the effects of lyrics and the voice on the emotional processing of music and on listeners' preferences. In the present study, we investigated the effects of vocals in music on participants' perceived valence and arousal in songs. Participants (N = 50) made valence and arousal ratings for familiar songs that were presented with and without the voice. We observed robust effects of vocal content on perceived arousal. Furthermore, we found that the effect of the voice on enhancing arousal ratings is independent of familiarity of the song and differs across genders and age: females were more influenced by vocals than males; furthermore these gender effects were enhanced among older adults. Results highlight the effects of gender and aging in emotion perception and are discussed in terms of the social roles of music.

Keywords: emotion, music, arousal, perception, gender, aging

Citation: Loui P, Bachorik JP, Li HC and Schlaug G (2013) Effects of voice on emotional arousal. Front. Psychol. 4:675. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00675

Received: 25 June 2013; Accepted: 07 September 2013;
Published online: 01 October 2013.

Edited by:

Anjali Bhatara, Université Paris Descartes, France

Reviewed by:

Mireille Besson, Centre National de la Recherch Scientifique, France
E. Glenn Schellenberg, University of Toronto, Canada

Copyright © 2013 Loui, Bachorik, Li and Schlaug. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Psyche Loui, Department of Psychology, Wesleyan University, Judd Hall 104, 207 High Street, Middletown, 06459 CT, USA e-mail: ploui@wesleyan.edu

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