Music for a Brighter World: Brightness Judgment Bias by Musical Emotion

Bhattacharya, Joydeep and Lindsen, Job P.. 2016. Music for a Brighter World: Brightness Judgment Bias by Musical Emotion. PLoS ONE, 11(2), ISSN 1932-6203 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

A prevalent conceptual metaphor is the association of the concepts of good and evil with brightness and darkness, respectively. Music cognition, like metaphor, is possibly embodied, yet no study has addressed the question whether musical emotion can modulate brightness judgment in a metaphor consistent fashion. In three separate experiments, participants judged the brightness of a grey square that was presented after a short excerpt of emotional music. The results of Experiment 1 showed that short musical excerpts are effective emotional primes that cross-modally influence brightness judgment of visual stimuli. Grey squares were consistently judged as brighter after listening to music with a positive valence, as compared to music with a negative valence. The results of Experiment 2 revealed that the bias in brightness judgment does not require an active evaluation of the emotional content of the music. By applying a different experimental procedure in Experiment 3, we showed that this brightness judgment bias is indeed a robust effect. Altogether, our findings demonstrate a powerful role of musical emotion in biasing brightness judgment and that this bias is aligned with the metaphor viewpoint.

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The research was supported by the EPSRC, UK (Research Grant EP/H01294X) and by the European Commission (Grant Agreement No. 612022)


Music, crossmodal, metaphor, brightness, emotion

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11 February 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2016 12:52

Last Modified:

19 Nov 2020 10:41

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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