The present study provided an analysis that demonstrates the influence of musical expertise on emotional and physiological responses to listening to pleasant, unpleasant, and self-selected pleasant music. Music majors and non-music majors listened to musical excerpts and rated their emotions on a scale from 0 to 9 in terms of valence while their electrodermal activity was measured. Overall, it was hypothesized that intensely pleasurable musical emotions would be accompanied by higher levels of physiological arousal, and that music majors would emotionally rate the unpleasant excerpts differently than the non-music majors. We found that music majors experienced more emotional pleasure than the non-music majors for all excerpts, including the unpleasant excerpts. In turn, music majors experienced more skin conductance responses than non-music majors. Also, this research supports the notion that familiarity of a musical excerpt can elicit stronger emotional and physiological responses than the experimenter-selected excerpts.


Casey, Michael




Cognition and Perception | Music


music perception, skin conductance, emotion, valence

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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