BRAMS – CRBLM Lecture Series: STUDENT ACTIVITY – Journal Club discussion of an article
Discussion on Cowen, A. S., Fang, X., Sauter, D., & Keltner, D. (2020). What music makes us feel: At least 13 dimensions organize subjective experiences associated with music across different cultures, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(4), 1924–1934.
Please see the article that will be featured during the discussion next week. Please ensure that you read the article prior to the activity to allow for active participation!
Abstract: What is the nature of the feelings evoked by music? We investigated how people represent the subjective experiences associated with Western and Chinese music and the form in which these representational processes are preserved across different cultural groups. US (n = 1,591) and Chinese (n = 1,258) participants listened to 2,168 music samples and reported on the specific feelings (e.g., “angry,” “dreamy”) or broad affective features (e.g., valence, arousal) that they made individuals feel. Using large-scale statistical tools, we uncovered 13 distinct types of subjective experience associated with music in both cultures. Specific feelings such as “triumphant” were better preserved across the 2 cultures than levels of valence and arousal, contrasting with theoretical claims that valence and arousal are building blocks of subjective experience. This held true even for music selected on the basis of its valence and arousal levels and for traditional Chinese music. Furthermore, the feelings associated with music were found to occupy continuous gradients, contradicting discrete emotion theories. Our findings, visualized within an interactive map (https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/∼acowen/music.html) reveal a complex, high-dimensional space of subjective experience associated with music in multiple cultures. These findings can inform inquiries ranging from the etiology of affective disorders to the neurological basis of emotion