The Impact of Music on Measures of Emotion While Viewing Films

Robert J. Ellis & Robert F. Simons

Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA



Despite continued acknowledgment of the importance of music in viewing films, empirical studies investigating the interaction of music with film are conspicuously absent. Evidence from a few isolated cognitive studies suggests that the relationship between music and film is additive.  Little is known, however, about the physiology of emotional response to viewing music–film stimuli. This study utilized both self-report as well as physiological measures to investigate the nature of the film/music relationship. 


Six-second videos (negative or positive valence, low or high arousal) were paired with excerpts from instrumental classical music (pre-tested for valence and arousal).  Results indicate a straight-forward, additive relationship in terms of emotion self report, but that the modulating role of music on physiological reaction to film was more complex.  This study corroborates previous evidence regarding the subjective experience of viewing images with music.  Physiological evidence, however, suggests that the interactions between music and video are not always predictable.



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