Individual Differences in Music-Perceived Emotions: The Influence of Externally Oriented Thinking

Liila Taruffi*, Rory Allen, John Downing, Pamela Heaton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Previous music and emotion research suggests that individual differences in empathy, alexithymia, personality traits, and musical expertise might play a role in music-perceived emotions. In this study, we investigated the relationship between these individual characteristics and the ability of participants to recognize five basic emotions (happiness, sadness, tenderness, fear, and anger) conveyed by validated excerpts of film music. One hundred and twenty participants were recruited through an online platform and completed an emotion recognition task as well as the IRI (Interpersonal Reactivity Index), TAS-20 (Toronto Alexithymia Scale), BFI (Big Five Inventory), and Gold-MSI (Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index). While participants recognized the emotions depicted by the music at levels that were better than chance, their performance accuracy was negatively associated with the externally oriented thinking subscale from the TAS-20. Our results suggest that alexithymia, previously linked to a deficit in perception of facial and vocal expressions of emotion, is also associated with difficulties in perception of emotions conveyed by music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-266
Number of pages14
JournalMusic Perception
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

User-Defined Keywords

  • music-perceived emotions
  • alexithymia
  • empathy
  • personality traits
  • musical expertise


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