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“The sound of affect”: Age differences in perceiving valence and arousal in music and their relation to music characteristics and momentary mood

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Wald-Fuhrmann,  Melanie
Department of Music, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Cohrdes, C., Wrzus, C., Wald-Fuhrmann, M., & Riediger, M. (2020). “The sound of affect”: Age differences in perceiving valence and arousal in music and their relation to music characteristics and momentary mood. Musicae Scientiae, 24(1), 21-43. doi:10.1177/1029864918765613.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-F611-7
Abstract
Throughout life, music plays an important role in individuals’ everyday affective experiences. Previous findings suggest that preferences for, and perceptions of, music with distinct affective qualities might differ for individuals from different age groups. To date, however, evidence from age-comparative studies across adulthood is rare and little is known about the mechanisms that contribute to age differences in music perception. In an age-heterogeneous sample ranging from adolescence to old adulthood (n = 50; 12–75 years), we investigated differences in affect perceptions of 147 sounds and 465 songs of various musical styles and dates of origin, as well as the respective roles of music characteristics and participants’ current mood. Results indicate significant age-differential perceptions of valence and arousal in music, but not in sounds. Moreover, several music characteristics and the participants’ current mood explained significant differences in the perception of affective qualities of music between listeners of different ages. These findings contribute to the understanding of age differences in affect perceptions in the auditory domain and the specificity of music, in particular. They also have implications for the use of music as experimental stimuli, which requires particular sensitivity to potential problems of age fairness and comparability.