Effects of Music on Gait Presented Emotion Perception
Research on embodied emotions suggests that our ability to simulate bodily emotions enables us to better understand others’ emotions. Music has been shown to influence emotion processing, and music therapy is effective in improving social functioning. In this study, we explored the potential impact of emotional music on the processing of visual, whole-body, social cues. It was expected that listening to happy music would facilitate the visual perception of happy gait whereas listening to angry music would facilitate the perception of angry gait. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that for neutral gait stimuli, the current mood state of the participant would bias the participant to ‘perceive’ emotion in the neutral stimuli in the non-music group. Fifty-six healthy participants were randomly assigned to three-music manipulation conditions happy music, angry music, or no music. The emotional gait perception task involved viewing a mannequin walker and deciding whether the walker looked happy or angry. Three types of gaits were presented: happy, angry, or neutral (no emotion). Mood and personality traits of the participants were assessed with self-report questionnaires. The results indicate that regardless of music manipulation, all groups were more accurate in detecting happy gait. Congruence of the valence of music and the valence of the gait stimuli did not influence the accuracy on the gait perception. There were no significant correlations between gait perception and mood or personality traits. Suggestions for a future study are described.