Research indicates that people value music primarily because of the emotions it evokes. Yet, the notion of musical emotions remains controversial, and researchers have so far been unable to offer a satisfactory account of such emotions. We argue that the study of musical emotions has suffered from a neglect of underlying mechanisms. Specifically, researchers have studied musical emotions without regard to how they were evoked, or have assumed that the emotions must be based on the mechanism for emotion induction, a (...) cognitive appraisal. Here, we present a novel theoretical framework featuring six additional mechanisms through which music listening may induce emotions: (1) brain stem reflexes, (2) evaluative conditioning, (3) emotional contagion, (4) visual imagery, (5) episodic memory, and (6) musical expectancy. We propose that these mechanisms differ regarding such characteristics as their information focus, ontogenetic development, key brain regions, cultural impact, induction speed, degree of volitional influence, modularity, and dependence on musical structure. By synthesizing theory and findings from different domains, we are able to provide the first set of hypotheses that can help researchers to distinguish among the mechanisms. We show that failure to control for the underlying mechanism may lead to inconsistent or non-interpretable findings. Thus, we argue that the new framework may guide future research and help to resolve previous disagreements in the field. We conclude that music evokes emotions through mechanisms that are not unique to music, and that the study of musical emotions could benefit the emotion field as a whole by providing novel paradigms for emotion induction. (shrink)
A successor to the acclaimed 'Music and Emotion', The Handbook of Music and Emotion provides comprehensive coverage of the field, in all its breadth and depth. As well as summarizing what is currently known about music and emotion, it will also stimulate further research in promising directions that have been little studied.
I support the music and social bonding framework, but submit that the authors' predictions lack discriminative power, and that they do not engage sufficiently with the emotion mechanisms that mediate between musical features and social bonding. I elaborate on how various mechanisms may contribute, in unique ways, to social bonding at various levels to help account for the socio-emotional effects of music.
Cross-cultural studies of music and emotion are needed to assess the generalizability of results and also have important implications for theory development. However, progress requires that the domain is broken down into smaller constituents based on key distinctions. For example, a multilevel theory of emotion-causation implies that the relative contributions made by culture and biology differ depending on the underlying mechanism involved, which precludes general conclusions. Such an account of emotions to music might be cross-culturally valid at the level of (...) mechanisms even if there is cross-cultural diversity in musical surface features and aroused emotions. An analysis in terms of psychological mechanisms can provide the necessary bridge between biological and social-constructionist perspectives on musical emotions. (shrink)
Most commentators have agreed with our thesis, that musical emotions cannot be studied without regard to underlying mechanisms. However, some commentators have expressed concerns that are addressed in this response. Others have suggested directions for future research. Topics discussed in our response include terminology, elaborations on particular mechanisms, possible additional mechanisms, ways of distinguishing among emotions and mechanisms, the prevalence of musical emotions, the relationship between perceived and felt emotions, developmental issues, and evolutionary perspectives. We end our response with a (...) plea for researchers to reach beyond the traditional disputes in the field to pave the way for more theory-driven studies that can facilitate a deeper understanding of musical emotions. (shrink)