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The relationship between personality, individual differences and the experience of emotions evoked by music that elicits visual mental imagery: project thesis

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posted on 2022-03-28, 16:53 authored by Robina Anne Day
Investigators suggest that there are at least eight possible mechanisms underlying the emotional responses that many individuals experience when listening to music. One proposed mechanism is visual imagery. It is thought that due to the contiguity of visual and auditory information, strong associations develop between these two modalities so that musical sounds may evoke visual mental images, which in turn may arouse certain feelings such as happiness and surprise. As individuals vary in their ability to experience visual mental imagery, it follows that these individual differences are evident when people listen to music. The aim of this project was to explore individual differences that may predict visual mental imagery while listening to music that induces a variety of emotions in the listener. One hundred and twenty first-year psychology participants completed a battery of self-report questionnaires which were designed to assess current mood and specific personality traits such as absorption and empathy and trait visual imagery. Participants also listened to four musical excerpts previously rated as representing Happy, Scary, Sad and Angry discrete emotions and recorded responses after each excerpt. Qualitative data for visual imagery experiences were collected. Regression analyses indicated that Absorption was predictive of Intensity of Visual Imagery for Happy, Scary and Angry music, while Fantasy (Interpersonal Reactivity Index; Davis, 1980);, NA (PANAS; Watson, Clark & Tellegen,1988) and rBAS (revised Behavioural Activation Scale; Jackson, 2009), predicted Intensity of Emotion Felt for these stimuli. However a different pattern emerged for Sad music as Trait Imagery, along with Fantasy and Absorption were predictive of the two DVs. Results for the Sad stimulus also contrasted with those for the other three stimuli in the repeated-measures ANOVAs that were conducted. Finally, the qualitative data indicated that subjective visual imagery experiences of the participants were most detailed and vivid for the Sad 3 music condition. Therefore the results of this study provide support for the view that sad music elicits more complex and aesthetic feelings and also provide tentative support for the hypothesis that visual imagery may be one of the psychological mechanisms involved in the musical elicitation of emotions.


Alternative Title

Music, emotions and individual differences.

Table of Contents

1, Introduction -- 2. Method -- 3. Results -- 4. Discussion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: leaves 56-63 Spine title: Music, emotions and individual differences.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Simon Boag


Copyright Robina Anne Day 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




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