Emotional Reactions to Sounds without Meaning


The present research examined the relationship between emotional reactions to sounds without meaning (tone and noise complexes) and objective sound descriptors. Two experiments showed that the core affect dimensions valence and activation were related to perceived loudness (intensity) and sharpness (perceived high frequency content), respectively. These results can be used as design criteria for emotion induction with sounds, implementation of emotional sounds in products, as well as in research on environmental noise perception.


Emotion; Sound

Share and Cite:

Västfjäll, D. (2012). Emotional Reactions to Sounds without Meaning. Psychology, 3, 606-609. doi: 10.4236/psych.2012.38091.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Asutay, E., & V?stfj?ll, D. (2012). Perception of loudness is influenced by emotion. PLoS ONE, 7, e38660. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038660
[2] Asutay, E., V?stfj?ll, D., Tajadura-Jimenez, A., Genell, A., Bergman, P., & Kleiner, M. (2012). Emoacoustics: A study of the psychoacoustical and psychological dimensions of emotional sound design. Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 60, 21-28.
[3] Ballas, J. A. (1993). Common factors in the identification of an assort- ment of brief everyday sounds. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 19, 250-267.doi:10.1037/0096-1523.19.2.250
[4] Berglund, B., Hassmén, P., & Preis, A. (2002). Annoyance and spectral contrast are cues for similarity and preference of sounds. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 250, 53-64. doi:10.1006/jsvi.2001.3889
[5] Berglund, B., & Lindvall, T. (1995). Community noise. Archives of the Center for Sensory Research, 2. Stockholm: Stockholm University.
[6] Bj?rk, E. A. (1985). The perceived quality of natural sounds. Acustica, 57, 185-188.
[7] Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (2000). Affective reactions to acoustic stimuli. Psychophysiology, 37, 204-215. doi:10.1111/1469-8986.3720204
[8] Desmet, P. (2002). Designing emotions. Delft: Delft University of Technology.
[9] Juslin, P. N., & V?stfj?ll, D. (2008). Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms. Behavioral Brain Science, 31, 559-621.
[10] Norman, D. A. (2002). Emotion and design: Attractive things work better. Interactions Magazine, 9, 36-42.
[11] Picard, R. (1997). Affective computing. Cambridge: MIT Press.
[12] Solomon, L. N. (1958). Semantic approach to the perception of com- plex sounds. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 30, 421- 425. doi:10.1121/1.1909632
[13] Stevenson, R. A., & James, T. W. (2008). Affective auditory stimuli: Characterization of the International Affective Digitized Sounds (IADS) by discrete emotional categories. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 315-321. doi:10.3758/BRM.40.1.315
[14] Tajadura, A., & V?stfj?ll, D. (2008). Auditory induced-emotion: A neglected channel for communication in HCI. In Affect and Emotion in HCI. In C. Peter, & B. Russell (Eds.), Berlin: Springer Verlag.doi:10.1007/978-3-540-85099-1_6
[15] Tajadura-Jimenez, A., V?ljam?e, A., Asutay, E., & V?stfj?ll, D. (2010). Embodied auditory perception: The emotional Impact of approaching and receding sound sources. Emotion, 10, 216-229. doi:10.1037/a0018422
[16] Tajadura-Jimenez, A., Larsson, P., V?ljam?e, A., V?stfj?ll, D., & Kleiner, M. (2010). The influence of auditory space on emotional response to sounds. Emotion.
[17] Todd, N. (2001). Evidence for a behavioral significance of saccular acoustic sensitivity in humans. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 110, 380-390. doi:10.1121/1.1373662
[18] V?stfj?ll, D. (2002). Emotion induction through music: A review of the musical mood induction procedure. Musicae Scientiae, 6, 171-203.
[19] V?stfj?ll, D., & G?rling, T. (2007). Validation of short self-report measure of core affect. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 48, 233-238. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450.2007.00595.x
[20] V?stfj?ll, D., Gulbol, M.-A., Kleiner, M., & G?rling, T. (2002). Affective reactions to-and evaluations of interior and exterior vehicle auditory quality. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 255, 501-518. doi:10.1006/jsvi.2001.4166
[21] V?stfj?ll, D., Friman, M., G?rling, T., & Kleiner, M. (2002). The meas- urement of core affect: A Swedish self-report measure. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 43, 19-32. doi:10.1111/1467-9450.00265
[22] Vitz, P. C. (1973). Preference for tones as a function of frequency and intensity. Perception and Psychophysics, 11, 84-88. doi:10.3758/BF03212689
[23] Wundt, W. (1924). An introduction to psychology. London: Allen & Unwin.
[24] Zwicker, E., & Fastl, H. (1999). Psychoacoustics—Facts and models. (2nd ed.). Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.