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Basic emotions expressed in music: factor analyses on intensity ratings by non-musical professional Chinese university students

Authors Shen C, Wang M, Ding T, Yang Y, Cabanyes-Truffino J, Sun L, Wang C, Wang W

Received 7 October 2018

Accepted for publication 19 November 2018

Published 11 December 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 617—629

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S190038

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Justinn Cochran

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


Chanchan Shen,1 Mufan Wang,2 Tongjun Ding,3 Yang Yang,4 Javier Cabanyes-Truffino,5 Lijun Sun,6 Chu Wang,1 Wei Wang1

1Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry, School of Public Health, Zhejiang University College of Medicine, Hangzhou, China; 2Faculty of Psychology, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain; 3Department of Musicology, Qianjiang College, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, China; 4Department of Musicology, College of Arts and Communications, Anhui University, Hefei, China; 5Faculty of Education, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain; 6CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Background: Previous studies of musical emotion largely depended on the lexical approach which suffered from overlaps between emotions.
Methods: In the present study, we explored emotional domains through a dimensional approach based on the intensity ratings on the emotion perceived in music. Altogether, 488 university students were invited to listen to 60 musical excerpts (most of them classical), to rate the intensity of emotion perceived without naming the emotion. Later, we conducted the exploratory factor analysis on the intensity ratings to look for the latent structures of musical emotion and then applied the confirmatory factor analysis to verify the validity of the proposed model of emotional structure.
Results: After first- and second-order factor analyses, seven emotional factors (domains, with 38 musical excerpts) were identified: Happiness, Tenderness, Sadness, Passion, Anger, Anxiousness, and Depression, which formed a satisfactory model. No gender difference was found regarding the perceived intensity of musical emotion.
Conclusion: Our study has offered evidence to delineate basic musical emotions into seven domains.

Keywords: dimensional classification, factor analysis, intensity rating, musical emotion

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