Magazine article Psychology Today

What Does Disgust Sound Like?

Magazine article Psychology Today

What Does Disgust Sound Like?

Article excerpt

MUSIC CAN EXPRESS SIX DISTINCT EMOTIONS.

WE ALL HAVE songs that make us happy, but sometimes music evokes more complex emotions.

Christine Mohn, a psychologist at the University of Oslo, asked 115 students to listen to a series of music samples and then match each with one of the six universal emotions that people recognize in faces: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, or disgust. Each of these, Mohn discovered, has a tonal counterpart we can identify.

Musicians collaborated to create original tunes to fit each emotion. While more than 70 percent of listeners correctly matched a screeching, highpitched clip to disgust, they still had the most success recognizing happiness and sadness. The disgust clips were sometimes mistaken for anger, fear, or sadness. Westerners are inundated with music that's generally classified as happy or sad, so they might not be familiar with the "sounds" of other emotions, suggests Mohn. "Composers would not want to compose disgusting music," she says. …

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