The effect of dichotic music presentation on ratings of emotional facial expressions

Erika Y. Hae, Bianca D.M. Hatin*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Music has a cross-modal influence on the emotional appraisal of pictures, probably due to a misattribution of emotion from music to the visually perceived images. Moreover, dichotic listening studies have demonstrated a left-ear (right-hemisphere) advantage for processing emotional and/or musical stimuli. The present study investigated the role of laterality in cross-modal affect misattribution: that is, whether visual judgments of emotion would be affected differently depending on which ear was presented with music via the dichotic listening task. Participants rated the emotionality of happy, sad, and neutral faces while listening to happy or sad music in one ear and white noise in the other. Baseline ratings without music were used as a comparison to see whether and how emotionality judgments shifted in the music conditions. As predicted, the results showed that happy music played to the left ear had a stronger cross-modal influence on ratings of sad faces than the same music played to the right ear. Furthermore, sad music affected the ratings of all faces regardless of whether it was played to the left or right ear. These results do not fully align with any given lateralized model of emotion processing, suggesting that other factors such as negativity bias may play a role.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalMusicae Scientiae
Early online date4 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • music
  • laterality
  • dichotic listening
  • negativity bias
  • affect misattribution

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