Empathy manipulation impacts music-induced emotions: a psychophysiological study on opera.PLoS One. 2012; 7(1):e30618.Plos
This study investigated the effects of voluntarily empathizing with a musical performer (i.e., cognitive empathy) on music-induced emotions and their underlying physiological activity. N = 56 participants watched video-clips of two operatic compositions performed in concerts, with low or high empathy instructions. Heart rate and heart rate variability, skin conductance level (SCL), and respiration rate (RR) were measured during music listening, and music-induced emotions were quantified using the Geneva Emotional Music Scale immediately after music listening. Listening to the aria with sad content in a high empathy condition facilitated the emotion of nostalgia and decreased SCL, in comparison to the low empathy condition. Listening to the song with happy content in a high empathy condition also facilitated the emotion of power and increased RR, in comparison to the low empathy condition. To our knowledge, this study offers the first experimental evidence that cognitive empathy influences emotion psychophysiology during music listening.