Date of Award

Fall 12-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Applied Biopsychology



Major Professor

Shirtcliff, Elizabeth; Lamm, Connie

Second Advisor

Beaton, Elliott

Third Advisor

LaHoste, Gerald

Fourth Advisor

Laird, Robert


Much of the research examining emotion induction, regulation, and suppression considers solely the visual modality (e.g., pictures of faces) for emotion elicitation. In reality, emotions are cued, expressed, and interpreted through multiple modalities by employing the extensive use of auditory stimuli in addition to visual stimuli. There have been some recent efforts to offset this imbalance in modality preference by using emotional auditory stimuli alone or in addition to visual stimuli. This project aims to further investigate emotional and autonomic responding to auditory stimuli with the added component of examining differential responding across social (nonlinguistic vocal expression) and non-social auditory (music) emotional stimuli. We found mixed support indicating that our auditory stimuli induced physiological changes compared to a neutral condition. We also found that participants reported experiencing emotions congruent with those expressed by the stimuli. Most interestingly, increased autonomic activation was found in vocalizations compared to music possibly indicating more salient emotional responding to voices expressing nonverbal emotions compared to other types of less social emotional stimuli such as music. We discuss these findings through a lens that is not only interested in these potential differences as being driven by vocalizations, but also the unique nature of musical stimuli. This project presents a novel way to further our scientific understanding of the salience of auditory emotional information and the possible differences and similarities in processing more instinctive vocalizations and instrumental music.


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