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How we remember the emotional intensity of past musical experiences

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      Abstract

      Listening to music usually elicits emotions that can vary considerably in their intensity over the course of listening. Yet, after listening to a piece of music, people are easily able to evaluate the music's overall emotional intensity. There are two different hypotheses about how affective experiences are temporally processed and integrated: (1) all moments' intensities are integrated, resulting in an averaged value; (2) the overall evaluation is built from specific single moments, such as the moments of highest emotional intensity (peaks), the end, or a combination of these. Here we investigated what listeners do when building an overall evaluation of a musical experience. Participants listened to unknown songs and provided moment-to-moment ratings of experienced intensity of emotions. Subsequently, they evaluated the overall emotional intensity of each song. Results indicate that participants' evaluations were predominantly influenced by their average impression but that, in addition, the peaks and end emotional intensities contributed substantially. These results indicate that both types of processes play a role: All moments are integrated into an averaged value but single moments might be assigned a higher value in the calculation of this average.

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      Most cited references 39

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      Feeling and thinking: Preferences need no inferences.

       R Zajonc (1980)
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        WHEN MORE PAIN IS PREFERRED TO LESS:. Adding a Better End

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          Duration neglect in retrospective evaluations of affective episodes.

          Two experiments documented a phenomenon of duration neglect in people's global evaluations of past affective experiences. In Study 1, 32 Ss viewed aversive film clips and pleasant film clips that varied in duration and intensity. Ss provided real-time ratings of affect during each clip and global evaluations of each clip when it was over. In Study 2, 96 Ss viewed these same clips and later ranked them by their contribution to an overall experience of pleasantness (or unpleasantness). Experimental Ss ranked the films from memory; control Ss were informed of the ranking task in advance and encouraged to make evaluations on-line. Effects of film duration on retrospective evaluations were small, entirely explained by changes in real-time affect and further reduced when made from memory. Retrospective evaluations appear to be determined by a weighted average of "snapshots" of the actual affective experience, as if duration did not matter.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Department of Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology Chemnitz, Germany
            Author notes

            Edited by: Andrew Kemp, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

            Reviewed by: Andrew Kemp, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil; Frederick Streeter Barrett, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, USA; Ruth Wells, University of Sydney, Australia

            *Correspondence: Thomas Schäfer, Department of Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology, 09107 Chemnitz, Germany e-mail: thomas.schaefer@ 123456psychologie.tu-chemnitz.de

            This article was submitted to Emotion Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

            Contributors
            Journal
            Front Psychol
            Front Psychol
            Front. Psychol.
            Frontiers in Psychology
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            1664-1078
            15 August 2014
            2014
            : 5
            4133782
            10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00911
            Copyright © 2014 Schäfer, Zimmermann and Sedlmeier.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Counts
            Figures: 3, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 40, Pages: 10, Words: 8536
            Categories
            Psychology
            Original Research Article

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