people often report changes in emotional arousal when listening to their preferred music. Can this subjective impression be related to objective physiological measures? And if so, does preference induce arousal or could arousal also influence preference? In Study 1, participants listened to 18 pieces of music and rated the strength of preference as well as their experienced emotional arousal for each piece. In addition, physiological arousal was measured via heart rate, skin conductance, and respiration rate. Results showed that subjective reports about emotional arousal were much more closely connected to the strength of music preference than were physiological measures such as heart rate or skin conductance. The two types of arousal (emotional, physiological) were not substantially associated with each other. In Study 2, we manipulated physiological arousal while one group of participants watched their faces in a mirror during music listening. Effects on music preference differed: For a given piece of unknown music, higher induced arousal yielded higher preference ratings. However, this result only held when the music was not too complex. The results indicated that arousal was not solely a consequence of listening to preferred music but might also be a potent determinant of music preference.
- Received February 11, 2009.
- Accepted February 26, 2011.
- © 2011 by The Regents of the University of California