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The Emotional Response And Impact Of Visual Stimuli Psychology Essay

Continual exposure to music, habitually, contribute to a number of important effects upon the listener in ways both easily understood, and those not so apparent. According to experimental evidence, it is suggestive that humans identify themselves with musical stimuli. People associate music as expression of emotion, faith, character, movements, and even perhaps social conditions (e.g. Bharucha, 1994; Krumhansl, 1990). They begin to bridge these experiences as a connection to memories, which can be felt intensely, in turn, establishing a relationship between an experience and the music, demonstrated by , respected concert and film composer, Aaron Copeland…

These properties determine how music is perceived and the emotional impact. A new scientific theory by Professor Philip Dorrell, University Waikato, New Zealand, illustrates this through the “Super-Stimulus Theory. His theory suggests that the musicality in speech, for example, provides the listener with a set of information which is processed by the auditory pathway, unconsciously, in order to determine the speaker’s mind-set. This information is used to modulate a particular emotional response from the listener, hence, the fundamental of the emotional effect of music. As demonstrated by Copeland, evidently, there is a correlation between music and its impact on the dominant mind-set of the listener.

Reputable psychologist, Annabel Cohen, separates music into two components, an emotional component and a structural component (musicality). Both components work in unison to promote variable responses and musical effects, although the emotional components reflect a more implicit result than the structural. Her research compliments that of Dorrell, in that musicality or the structural component have an equal impact on the listener unconsciously, whereas the emotional component enables the listener to consciously “feel” their emotional perception of music (Cohen, 2002).

Prone to emotions, humans experience joy, anger, sadness and number of significant emotions, daily, even in their subconscious. These are variables, determining actions and the things people say. Music has an exceptional significance in impacting the emotional and physical status of people, regardless of their state of mind.

Specific neurons in the brain respond to the different types of music being heard. Several chemical reactions may take place promoting the release of hormones such as cortisol, testosterone and oxytocin, even triggering the release of endorphins. Although one may be aware of a mental change in state in feeling, it is less obvious to figure whether the music has actually had any sort of effect.

In an experiment carried out in the University of California, Irwine, four different genres of music were played across a number of students. Each student responded with the emotional effect they had experienced throughout the duration of each genre. The independent variable in the experiment was the music, and the dependant variable was the change in emotion experienced.

The results demonstrated an iconic relationship between the significant tonal/rhythmic modifications between each style of music and their musical structures (e.g. Dowling & Harwood). A definite contrast was evident in slower paced music producing a calmer emotional response and faster paced music, a more energized response, supporting the study, that musical stimuli directly impact our emotions. The dependent variables may vary in development and experience, however, are a conscious influence.

Studies have shown that particular types of music can induce production, without the need of conscious recognition. Music with relating rhythms as a physical event or occasion result in equivalent mood responses. For example, slow music in relation to slow paced events. Both evoke a calmer environment and a calmer mind-set, therefore, there is no need for the listener to be consciously aware of the emotional experience (e.g. Dowling & Harwood).

Generally, music helps to surface simpler emotional feelings like happiness, better than more complex ones, for example, satisfaction. Although both emotions are positive, satisfaction would demand a conscientious awareness of satisfaction. It becomes apparent that music lacks the ability of embodying complex semantic nuances in emotions (Ortony, Clore, & Collins, 1988).

Often, it is the musical structure of a piece of music being heard that enables the listener to anticipate moments of intensity, a crescendo or when the music is nearing the end. This idea is derivative of gestalt laws of perception. Motion towards an increased or decreased intensity can predict movement in the given direction (Meyer, 1956). This demonstrates the listener’s ability to extract the emotion inherent within the music itself, for example, its musical structure.

These expectations are not considered full-fledged emotions in themselves because mere expectation does not specify the valence of the emotion perceived. In order to be considered a source of emotion, music’s relationship to the extrinsic world must be considered.

Driving and listening to fast music can increase the risk of car accidents.

The overall patterns of tension and release are similar to those experienced in non-musical contexts. Similarly, music’s intrinsic emotional components play on personal expectations. Each individual note within the piece adds to the overall effect, creating expectancies. These are both learned and innate perceptual processes, such as the results of priming or the ‘gestalt laws’ of perception, respectively, that together provide a predicted musical trajectory. The emotional intensity of a piece of music is highly dependent on the confirmation or violation of these expectancies and how the listener engages with the piece (Meyer, 1956). Music’s extrinsic and intrinsic aspects work together to convey or enhance emotional meaning.

French researcher, Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis claims that classical music improves intelligence, referred to as the Mozart effect. Experiments carried out in Universities across the United States have continually used this method to improve the results of their students.

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