Music On The Mind Lecture 2: The Dag Factor. Why We Like Music With Contagious Emotions

Associate Professor Emery Schubert

Melbourne Recital Centre


6:00 pm

Although this event is free, bookings are essential. Tickets can be booked through the Melbourne Recital Centre website

Many people enjoy music that makes them feel strong emotions.  However, music psychologists have become interested in the distinction between felt emotion and the emotion that the music is representing.  For example, a piece might make a listener feel little emotion, while the music itself expresses very strong emotions.  Such a simultaneous difference in emotions has only recently been researched, and one study of this difference suggests that people like music when the emotion felt is well matched with the expressed emotion: This matching has been referred to as the 'Differential Affect Gap' (DAG).  In this presentation I will report how the DAG factor works, and how it might be explained.  An interesting idea arises from the philosophical view that music has human-like qualities, and just as with humans, we can have empathising responses to music. Thus, we are able to 'capture' a contagious emotion in music as we do when naturally smiling when we see a friend smiling, and feel an empathic sadness when we see that person feeling sad.