Unlocking the Power of Music: Mapping 13 Key Emotions

Music has the power to make us feel a range of emotions, from joy and relaxation to anxiety and fear. But how do different people from different cultures experience these emotions when they listen to music? A recent study from the University of California, Berkeley, sought to answer this question by mapping the emotional responses of over 2,500 people in the United States and China to thousands of music snippets across a range of genres.

The researchers identified at least 13 overarching feelings that are universally felt through the language of music, including amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and feeling pumped up. To ensure the accuracy of their findings, nearly 1,000 people from the United States and China rated over 300 additional Western and traditional Chinese music samples that were specifically intended to evoke variations in valence and arousal. Their responses validated the 13 categories.

The study revealed that people from different cultures can agree that a song is angry, but can differ on whether that feeling is positive or negative. Positive and negative values, known in psychology as “valence,” are more culture-specific. Across cultures, study participants mostly agreed on general emotional characterizations of musical sounds, such as angry, joyful, and annoying. But their opinions varied on the level of “arousal,” which refers in the study to the degree of calmness or stimulation evoked by a piece of music.

The potential applications of these research findings are far-reaching. They could inform psychological and psychiatric therapies designed to evoke certain feelings or help music streaming services like Spotify adjust their algorithms to satisfy their customers’ audio cravings or set the mood.

It is worth noting that some of the emotional associations uncovered in the study may be based on the context in which the participants had previously heard a certain piece of music, such as in a movie or YouTube video. But this is less likely the case with traditional Chinese music, with which the findings were validated.

Music is a universal language, but we don’t always pay enough attention to what it’s saying and how it’s being understood. Understanding how music evokes specific emotions can help us harness its power to improve our mental and emotional wellbeing. So the next time you listen to your favorite song, pay attention to how it makes you feel and the emotions it evokes. You might be surprised by what you discover.


Website Breathwork-Science. Here is a link to the original article: https://breathwork-science.org/ooh-la-la-music-evokes-13-key-emotions-scientists-have-mapped-them/



    1. Beyond simply making you feel good, there’s evidence that music can even be good for your health. Many studies show that listening to music your immunity system will boost your response to to antibiotics against bacteria and other invaders. Simply put it, music is a treatment for mind and body.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.