The role of mood and personality in the perception of emotions represented by music.Cortex. 2011 Oct; 47(9):1099-106.C
Neuroimaging studies investigating the processing of emotions have traditionally considered variance between subjects as statistical noise. However, according to behavioural studies, individual differences in emotional processing appear to be an inherent part of the process itself. Temporary mood states as well as stable personality traits have been shown to influence the processing of emotions, causing trait- and mood-congruent biases. The primary aim of this study was to explore how listeners' personality and mood are reflected in their evaluations of discrete emotions represented by music. A related aim was to investigate the role of personality in music preferences. An experiment was carried out where 67 participants evaluated 50 music excerpts in terms of perceived emotions (anger, fear, happiness, sadness, and tenderness) and preference. Current mood was associated with mood-congruent biases in the evaluation of emotions represented by music, but extraversion moderated the degree of mood-congruence. Personality traits were strongly connected with preference ratings, and the correlations reflected the trait-congruent patterns obtained in prior studies investigating self-referential emotional processing. Implications for future behavioural and neuroimaging studies on music and emotions are raised.