Tune Yourself In: Music and Affect from Adolescence to Old Age

Music can express different moods and can affect a listener’s emotional experience in various ways: It can make a perceiver feel happy, thoughtful or melancholic, it can stir someone up or can be calming. We are interested in finding out how listeners of different age groups perceive emotional expressions of music, what kind of music they prefer in different emotional situations, and whether this might be related to the music’s acoustic cues. For example, does a piece of music sound happy when it reaches a specific tempo or when it includes a specific harmonic progression? Do older people’s evaluations of mood expressed through music differ from those of younger adults? Do individuals listen to specific pieces of music to influence their current mood, and how successful are they in doing so? We are exploring these questions in various studies and in cooperation with the music research group of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA) in Frankfurt.

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