Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Sound and mood

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Sound and mood:
What is the effect of sound on mood?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Figure 1. Image of a sound icon.

Have you ever thought about the effect of different sounds on your mood?

How does hearing specific sounds impact our mood?

What exactly happens when we hear sounds to illicit[spelling?] an emotional response to affect our mood?

Sounds are capable of affecting and influencing an individuals[spelling?] mood, however these effects on emotions are considerably different across individuals and situations (Quarto et al., 2017). This chapter will explore the effect of sound on mood and how it can impact individuals well-being in everyday life.

Key questions:
  • What is sound?
  • What is mood and how can it be measured?
  • How does sound affect us and what is the effect of sound on mood?
  • Based on empirical research, what effect does sound have on mood?
  • How do psychological theories explain the effect of sound and mood?
  • How does the effect of sound and mood apply to everyday life in the real world?

What is sound?[edit | edit source]

Figure 2. Image of a sound wave.

There are several definitions of sound:

Kalat (2016) states that sound waves are the periodic compressions of air, water, or other structures that varies in amplitude, frequency, pitch and timbre.

Sound waves are vibrations of molecules, that must travel through some sort of physical medium, such as air and water (Weiten, 2013).

Pasnau (1999) states that there are two historical views of sounds: firstly sounds are the object of hearing and secondly that sounds are properties of the mechanism instead of the object making the sound. From typical listening environments, the ear receives compression waves from many different directions, where reverberation is a common phenomenon. The standard view of sound is incoherent as the perception of sound is illusory: for living beings, sounds are not heard as being in the air, however sounds are heard as from the place they are generated (Pasnau, 1999).

Types of sounds

Sounds can vary and emanate from anything such as environmental noises, music, nature, sports, travel and transportation. The capacity of the auditory system is dependent on auditory scene, which is restricted by the fixed number of cells and intrinsic noise; this essentially limits the ability for a human or animal to discriminate between different sounds with similar spectra-temporal characteristics - however to help this issue, improvements to the discrimination ability by an encoding procedure may occur i.e. sounds reaching the cochlea for the neural spike trains produced in continuous progressive stages in response to sounds (Attias & Schreiner, 2000).

To process incoming sounds effectively, the auditory system may be adapted to the statistical structure of natural auditory scenes. Attias and Schreiner (2000) explored the relationship between the system and the inputs with low order statistical properties in several sound collections using a filter bank analysis. The amplitude and phase are shown in different frequency of bands, this demonstrates the simple parametric descriptions for their distribution and spectrum are effective for different types of sounds. The findings indicate that natural sounds are greatly redundant and have potential implications to the neural code in the auditory system (Attias & Schreiner, 2000).

Did you know?

Humans and animals interpret sounds differently to each other. The hearing range is defined by the range of frequencies that can be heard. Many animal species are able to hear frequencies incredibly and far beyond the human hearing range. For example, several dolphins and bats can hear frequencies up to 100,000 Hz.

Fact sited from: Hearing range

What is mood?[edit | edit source]

Figure 3. Listed diagram of emotions and moods examples.

What is the difference between emotion and mood?

Emotions arise from reactions to significant life events. When emotions are initiated; feelings are produced, the body prepares for action, emotional states are generated and recognisable facial expressions are formed (Reeve, 2015). Emotions and moods are similar, however they differ with contrasting: antecedents, action specificity and time course.

Both emotions and mood occur from different antecedent causes: emotions appear from significant life situations that are experienced, whereas moods appear from processes that are unclear and unknown (Reeve, 2015). The action specificity differs as: emotions are typically influenced by behaviour and from a direct specific course of actions, comparatively moods are generally influenced by cognition and direct thoughts. The time course differs as: emotions emerge from short lived events that may last for short periods of time (e.g. seconds or minutes), whereas moods emerge from mental events that may last for long periods of time (e.g. hours or days). Therefore, moods more continuous and long lasting than emotions (Reeve, 2015).

How are emotions and mood measured?

Mood can be measured from several different assessments such as; personality tests, stress scales, brain activity and facial feedback hypothesis.  Each type of tests may assess an individual’s mood in a certain way.  As mood itself has many variations, it may be treated as a personality characteristic with different points on the mood dimension and this can be measure by state mood questionnaires (Underwood & Froming, 1980).  Validity and reliability can be shown through face scale studies, with a pictorial scale of mood which assesses efficiently (Lorish & Maisiak, 1986).  Mood can also be measured through brain monitors such as positron emission tomography (PET) scans and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe an individual’s mood reactions (Reeve, 2015).  The facial feedback hypothesis is another effective way at evaluating mood, by assessing the movements of the face, the changes in face temperature and the facial glandular activity (Reeve, 2015).  Essentially, facial feedback is the emotion activation which emotions can be expressed cognitively and physically.

Sound and mood - empirical research[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotions[edit | edit source]

Aucouturier et al., (2016) suggest research has shown that individuals often exert control over their emotions.  Individuals can regulate their emotional experience by modulating expressions, reappraising feelings and redirecting attention[factual?].  The concepts of both cognitive and emotional processes are investigated through emotional signals that are produced in a goal-directed way and monitored for errors such as intentional actions.  Aucouturier et al., (2016) experimented on how a digital audio platform can covertly modify the vocal emotional tone of participants voices; with emotions of happiness, fear and sadness. The results revealed that audio transformations were being perceived as natural examples of the intended emotions (Aucouturier et al., 2016). The majority of the participants remained unaware that their own voices were being manipulated.  The findings demonstrated that individuals are not meeting the predetermined emotional target of frequently monitoring their voices. Consequently, the individuals emotional state change in congruence with the emotion portrayed whilst listening to their own voices and this was measured through self report and skin conductance levels.  This study provided revolutionary evidence of peripheral feedback effects of emotional experience in the auditory system.  

Nature sounds[edit | edit source]

Figure 4. Scenery of nature, flowing water stream.

Nature sounds are interesting to explore in regards to how it effects an individual's mood and the messages we receive from certain sounds. Sounds can have influencing factors to affect antecedents of decision making, mood, behaviour duration and perceptions or intentions (Spendrup, Hunter & Isgren, 2016).  Additionally, nature sounds have a beneficial effect [missing something?] mood and stress[Provide more detail].  Spendrup, Hunter and Isgren (2016) investigated how nature sounds directly or indirectly influence customers and their healthy food choices in food retailer stores. The results revealed how nature sounds can positively and directly influence customers to purchase healthy foods; specifically, for men the results show relatively low intentions to buy (Spendrup, Hunter & Isgren, 2016). The findings also indicate no evidence to support the effect of nature sounds influencing mood and individual differences between males and females.  Overall the effects from nature sounds are evident contextually by the environment in which they are experienced.

Nature sounds youtube

Transportation sounds[edit | edit source]

Figure 5. Image of city traffic at night.

Loud transportation sounds that individuals are exposed to from surrounding environments may be detrimental to our health and well-being. Erkan (2017) completed a study on horn sounds in transportation systems with cognitive perspective on the instant mood condition disorder.  The research explored how pedestrians are influenced by different and sudden sounds of horns while walking on sidewalks.  The participants brain responses were measured by electroencephalogram recordings, while five different horn sounds were virtually presented randomly, from real traffic environments (Erkan, 2017).  The findings demonstrated how trucks with a high-end horn sound, displayed significant differences in the brainwaves of participants[explain?].  Gender differences were varied, with males being more unresponsive to bass tones, while women present more motivated behaviour[explain?].  Truck horn sounds have undeniably loud bass tones which affected pedestrians negatively, in comparison to a bicycle bell ringing (Erkan, 2017).  In general, the study emphasises the importance and consideration on instant mood disorder caused by harmful noises[explain?].  Brain responses have shown significant and noteworthy findings with detecting physiological perceptions of pedestrians with traffic sounds.

Rain and city sounds

Age differences and distracting sounds[edit | edit source]

Age differences may contribute to the ability to process spoken language under conditions with numerous types of background noise (Tun & Wingfield, 1999). The type of background noise and the intensity may affect the way individuals process sounds. Tun and Wingfield (1999) investigated the listening performance and language processing with different types of distracting sounds. Results showed that increased intensity levels of just one speaker produced diversely greater impairment in older adults than younger adults, as well as listening performance varied between individual differences in speed processing and hearing ability (Tun & Wingfield, 1999).

The brain[edit | edit source]

Figure 6. Anatomy of the human ear.

Sound stimulate the ears and produces sensations in the brain (Erkan, 2017).

[Provide more detail]

Serotonin and mood regulation[edit | edit source]

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that influences mood and emotion. There are serotonin and dopamine pathways in the brain, which are fundamental to understanding emotion and the primary motivational functions that produce positive feelings, such as pleasure or reward (Reeve, 2015). Both physiological and psychological aspects play a role in mood regulation.

Sound recognition and localisation[edit | edit source]

Maeder et al., (2001) completed a study on auditory information examined with psychophysical studies in control and brain damaged subjects with relevant localisation and recognition processes. Using fMRI the participant’s brain activation associations with performance in sound identification and localisation was explored.  There were three different conditions: the first conditions consisted of a comparison of spatial stimuli simulated with interaural time differences, the second condition consisted of identification of environmental sounds; and the third condition was rest - the first and second conditions required acknowledgment of predefined targets by pressing a button (Maeder et al., 2001). Each participants brain activation patterns were analysed, along with sound recognition and localisation activation, in comparison to how each participant’s brain reacted differently. Maeder et al., (2001) found that in the first two conditions, there were differing activation patterns of the fronto-temporo-parietal convexity. The middle temporal gyrus and posterior front gyrus areas of the brain were more activated by recognition than localisation.  The lower parts of the inferior parietal lobes and middle inferior gyri were more activated bilaterally by localisation rather than recognition. There were regions selectively activated by sound recognition, significantly larger in women which was selectively activated by localisation.  The passive listening concept revealed segregated pathways on superior temporal gyrus and inferior parietal lobe. The findings suggest that distinct networks are involved in sound recognition and sound localisation in the brain.

Sound environment on mood and emotion[edit | edit source]

As sounds are accountable for affecting an individual's moods and emotions, they can also be variable across different genetic backgrounds.  Sounds, in particularly music, are associated with potential mechanisms which modify mood state and emotion processing, which relies on dopamine signals.   Quarto et al., (2017) investigated the interaction between functional polymorphism of the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2 rs1076560, G > T genes) and sound environment on mood and emotion related brain activity.  Individual differences of mood induction were measured prior and subsequently from the tasks.  For this study, participants were genotyped for DRD2 and undertook fMRI throughout an implicit emotion-processing task whilst listening to noise or music.  The findings presented mood improvement in DRD2GG participants after music exposure and mood deterioration after noise exposure to GT subjects; and furthermore, music in comparison to noise environment decreased striatal activity of GT subjects in addition to prefrontal activity of GG subjects while processing emotional faces (Quarto et al., 2017).  Overall Quarto et al., (2017) study proposes the genetic variability of dopamine receptors affecting sound environment variations of mood and emotion processing[grammar?].

Music[edit | edit source]

Figure 7. Image of music notes.

There is a common fascination for music and how it creates emotional rewards for those who listen to music. Around the world music is existent in many cultures and a part of individuals everyday lives (Zentner, Grandjean & Scherer, 2008).  Even if you are not intentionally listening to music on your phone, you may hear and listen to music on the radio or by walking past department stores in the shopping mall. Music has the possibility of altering an individual's mood, emotion, and psychological well-being.

Emotions from different music sounds[edit | edit source]

Zentner, Grandjean and Scherer (2008) investigated how the sound of music can evoke emotions with characterisation, classification and measurement.  In four related studies, music induced emotions were considered, the first two studies examined the perceived emotions; with a list of music relevant emotional terms and distinct music preferences. The findings from Study 1 and Study 2 presented that emotional responses varied greatly according to the music genre, the type of response and how the participants felt and experienced perceptions (Zentner, Grandjean & Scherer, 2008).  For Study 3 a music festival was examined through a field study and structure of music induced emotions by a positive factor analysis of mood emotion ratings.  In Study 4 the model was duplicated from Study 3 and looked at music elicited emotions better than basic emotions and dimensional emotion models (Zentner, Grandjean & Scherer, 2008).   The Geneva Emotional Music scale, a domain specific device to measure musically induced emotions[grammar?]. The overall findings revealed that individuals experience different emotional states whilst listening to music.  For the general results in response to music, negative emotions are experienced infrequently.  Whereas positive emotions varied, and were determined by the type of music[vague]. The differences between felt and perceived emotions, indicated that emotions were less frequently felt in response to music, compared to when they were perceived as expressive properties to music (Zentner, Grandjean & Scherer, 2008). From the studies, it was also found that individuals who listened to actual music and live music performances appeared to converge with music relevant emotion[explain?].  The overall goal of these studies was to understand how the sound of music affect emotions - on a theoretical level the findings show that music evoked emotions goes past the emotions typically experienced [vague][for example?]

(Zentner, Grandjean & Scherer, 2008). 

Happy and sad music - emotional perceptions[edit | edit source]

Detriments, immediacy and isolation

Emotional responses to music were examined with individuals who exhibited severe deficits in music processing after brain damage (Peretz, Gagnon & Bouchard, 1998).  Six studies were devised to investigate the perceptual base of emotional judgement in music, with the use of classical music that were used to convey either happy or sad tones.  In the first three studies, participants were required to identify whether the excerpts were happy or sad, on a 10-point scale. The findings demonstrated how emotional judgements are highly consistent across participants along with those resistant to brain damage, determined by musical structure and immediate [missing something?] (Peretz, Gagnon & Bouchard, 1998).  In last three studies, participants were assessed on emotional and non-emotional perceptions through the operations of a perceptual analysis system. The overall results found the emotional and non-emotional judgements are the product of distinct pathways that are consistent and reliable across subjects.  Individuals cultures may play a role, although emotional responses are extremely variable across individuals (Peretz, Gagnon & Bouchard, 1998).  Additional investigations in neuropsychology may help in furthering the understanding of music, perception and individuals with brain damage.

Psychophysiological differentiation of happy and sad music - the role of tempo

Comparatively, Khalfa, Roy, Rainville, Dalla Bella & Peretz, (2008) investigated the differentiation between happy and sad music.  The respiration rate was an entrainment to measure the emotions, through the rhythm and tempo of the music.  The study aimed to test whether fast or slow rhythm/tempo music was enough to produce differential physiological effects.  This was measured by the participants' physiological responses such as facial muscle activity, blood pressure and heart rate when listening to fast or slow music (Khalfa et al., 2008).  The findings revealed that there were significant differentiations between happy and sad music, by diastolic blood pressure, electrodermal activity, and zygomatic activity, in comparison to fast and slow music which did not elicit differentiations (Khalfa et al., 2008).  In general this study explored the tonal variations of happy, sad, fast and slow music, with the effect of psychophysiological responses.

Sad music and mood regulation[edit | edit source]

The debate over whether sad music is beneficial is a controversial topic. Several argue that sad music can increase and improve mood, rather than worsening mood.  Some report that sad music genuinely makes them feel sad, while others report a positive affect outcome from sad music (Huron, 2011). The following studies will discuss the sad music and the effects it has on mood.

Garrido and Schubert (2013) explored the paradox on the maladaptive effect of how listening to sad music could make people happier and improve mood.  The study investigated participant moods before and after listening to self-selected music.  Measurements of psychometric scales, absorption, personality and reflectiveness were used.  The findings revealed that participants significantly increased depression after listening to self-selected sad music.  The limitations of the study may include the experiment design and listening instructions, as well as future implications for music in therapy, enhancing mood regulation and other health benefits from music (Garrido & Schubert 2013).  

Sad music and prolactin

Listening to sad music has been suggested to elicit the combination of cognitive rumination, empathetic responses and learned associations (Huron, 2011). The levels of the hormone prolactin, located in the pituitary gland of the brain, increases when individuals experience sad emotions, and this calming psychological effect is indicative of homeostatic function. Huron (2011) examines the proposed concept of high prolactin to be associated with enjoyable music induced sadness and low prolactin associated with unpleasant music induced sadness. The findings revealed certain individual differences, where females are more empathetically aware of the emotional state of others and consequently some females may be moved by sad music and likely to experience sad emotions (Huron, 2011). Also, cultural differences may factor for some individuals and they may have stronger learned associations and be more susceptible to association induced sadness whilst listening to music.

Essentially, music can significantly affect an individual's mood. Depending on the present state of mood, music can positively influence an individual by lifting the current state of emotions which can result in improvements in mood, however music can also negatively influence an individual's mood by decreasing or possibly worsening the current state of emotions. There are both positive and negative aspects with how music affects our mood.

The positive effects of music

Happy music in comparison to sad music has shown differences and improvements across individuals. Where positive emotions varied in Zentner, Grandjean and Scherer (2008) with emotions felt and perceived from the music listened to[grammar?]. Peretz, Gagnon and Bouchard (1998) also found consistent results with emotional judgements across participants. The physiology of participants was investigated by Khalfa et al., (2008) with happy and fast music. Music can possibly help individuals in the in the fields of music therapy, comfort, relaxation, positive mental health and well-being.

The negative effects of music

Despite the suggestions that sad music can improve mood, Garrido and Schubert (2013) found that listening to sad music can significantly increase depression. Individuals differences of gender Huron (2011) explains how females are more empathetic and more likely to be moved by sad music, this associated with stronger learned associations[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Overall the research finding postulates that listening to sad music may negatively affect mood, emotions, the cognition and possibly worsen psychological states.

Theoretical explanations[edit | edit source]

Figure 8. Robert Plutchik's flower diagram of emotions.

Plutchik's theory of emotion[edit | edit source]

Robert Plutchik theory of emotion is a highly influential classification approach for general emotional responses, where emphasis is on emotions the emotional process; a chain of events that are combined into a complex feedback system (Reeve, 2015). Plutchik's feedback loop consists of cognition, arousal, feelings, preparation for action, expressions and over behaviour, this occurs with significant life events that results with emotion (Reeve, 2015). From a biological perspective, Plutchik lists eight universal emotions which are anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, fear, acceptance, anticipation and joy. These eight emotions are the basic emotions that exist, universal to humans and animals, and the primary emotions that are the product of biology and evolution (Reeve, 2015).

Mood management theory[edit | edit source]

Mood management theory is based on the principle that individuals make continuous efforts at improving affective and emotional experience, this theory postulates that individuals tend to arrange their stimulus environments to increase the likelihood that good moods are increased and prolonged, whereas bad moods are short-lived and experienced in different intensities (Zillmann, 2000)[grammar?]. Primarily, this theory states that conveyed messages are efficient by changing our mood states and specific messages can contribute as regulation of certain mood states. Zillmann (2000), explored mood management in context of exposure theory, with concepts such as; communication choices, interactions with gender and personality, information utility and selective exposure and motivation.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

There are many factors regarding how sound can affect our mood[vague]. Understanding the effect of nature, transportation, vocalisations, distracting sounds, and music can assist us in gaining our understanding on how sound affects mood. Overall, with several individual differences considered, sound can both effectively alter our mood, by either positive improvements or negative impairments[vague]. There are numerous research articles on different types of sounds also to be considered and further research would be required to extensively understand the topic[vague].

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Attias, H., & Schreiner, C. (2000). Temporal Low-Order Statistics of Natural Sounds. Sloan Center For Theoretical Neurobiology And W.M. Keck Foundation Center For Integrative Neuroscience.

Aucouturier, J., Johansson, P., Hall, L., Segnini, R., Mercadié, L., & Watanabe, K. (2016). Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotion alter speakers’ emotional states in a congruent direction. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, 113(4), 948-953.

Erkan, İ. (2017). Horn Sounds in Transportation Systems and a Cognitive Perspective on the Instant Mood-Condition Disorder. Procedia Engineering, 187, pp.387-394.

Garrido, S., & Schubert, E. (2013). Moody melodies: Do they cheer us up? A study of the effect of sad music on mood. Psychology Of Music, 43(2), 244-261.

Huron, D. (2011). Why is sad music pleasurable? A possible role for prolactin. Musicae Scientiae, 15(2), 146-158.

Kalat, J. (2016). Biological psychology. 12th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Khalfa, S., Roy, M., Rainville, P., Dalla Bella, S., & Peretz, I. (2008). Role of tempo entrainment in psychophysiological differentiation of happy and sad music?. International Journal Of Psychophysiology, 68(1), 17-26.

Lorish, C., & Maisiak, R. (1986). The face scale: A brief, nonverbal method for assessing patient mood. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 29(7), 906-909.

Maeder, P., Meuli, R., Adriani, M., Bellmann, A., Fornari, E., & Thiran, J. et al. (2001). Distinct Pathways Involved in Sound Recognition and Localization: A Human fMRI Study. Neuroimage, 14(4), 802-816.

Pasnau, R. (1999). What is Sound. The Philosophical Quarterly, 49(196), pp.309-324.

Peretz, I., Gagnon, L., & Bouchard, B. (1998). Music and emotion: perceptual determinants, immediacy, and isolation after brain damage. Cognition, 68(2), 111-141.

Quarto, T., Fasano, M., Taurisano, P., Fazio, L., Antonucci, L., Gelao, B., Romano, R., Mancini, M., Porcelli, A., Masellis, R., Pallesen, K., Bertolino, A., Blasi, G. and Brattico, E. (2017). Interaction between DRD2 variation and sound environment on mood and emotion-related brain activity. Science Direct.

Reeve, J. (2014). Understanding Motivation and Emotion, 6th Edition. 6th ed. John Wiley & Sons.

Spendrup, S., Hunter, E., & Isgren, E. (2016). Exploring the relationship between nature sounds, connectedness to nature, mood and willingness to buy sustainable food: A retail field experiment. Appetite, 100, 133-141.

Tun, P., & Wingfield, A. (1999). One Voice Too Many: Adult Age Differences in Language Processing With Different Types of Distracting Sounds. The Journals Of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences And Social Sciences, 54B(5), P317-P327.

Underwood, B., & Froming, W. (1980). The Mood Survey: A Personality Measure of Happy and Sad Moods. Journal Of Personality Assessment, 44(4), 404-414.

Weiten, W. (2013). Psychology Themes and Variations. 9th ed. [S.l.]: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, pp.159-162.

Zentner, M., Grandjean, D., & Scherer, K. (2008). Emotions evoked by the sound of music: Characterization, classification, and measurement. Emotion, 8(4), 494-521.

Zillmann, D. (2000). Mood Management in the Context of Selective Exposure Theory. Annals Of The International Communication Association, 23(1), 103-123.

External links[edit | edit source]