Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Eric D. Sundstrom

Committee Members

Jacob J. Levy, Michael A. Olson, Barbara A. Murphy


Although emotional experiences with music have been enjoyed for millennia, research involving music has focused primarily on emotions perceived rather than felt, and not much research exists into differential emotional response to music as a function of individual differences. A recent study (Djikic, 2011) looked at the effect of music on personality, but it did not assess emotional state before or after listening. In an extension of that study, the present research explores how changes in emotion may be related to self-reported personality. Relationships between extraversion and neuroticism, emotional state before and after music listening, and liking the stimulus were examined. It was hypothesized that in predicting final emotional state, an interaction was expected between initial emotional state and liking the stimulus; personality was expected to moderate the relationship between liking the stimulus and its type; and greater change in affect would be found in music than in control conditions. A one-factor between-subjects experiment was conducted in which participants listened to one of four randomly-assigned sound conditions: choral music likely to be perceived as happy, instrumental music likely to be perceived as sad, Brownian noise, or a classroom lecture. Sixty students from a university located in the southeastern United States participated individually in a laboratory setting. Repeated measures assessed affect, extraversion and neuroticism, both before and after listening. Liking the stimulus was found to interact with initial negative affect in predicting negative affect after listening, but no similar interaction was found for positive affect. Highest levels of neuroticism were associated with liking the stimulus likely to be perceived as sad. Significantly greater reduction in negative affect was found in music conditions than control conditions. This study also found partial support for a surprising difference in neuroticism, which changed after exposure to all conditions except the Brownian noise control condition. These findings underscore the importance of individual differences in emotional response to music and the need to take them into account.

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