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Most studies examining emotion have used either visual or auditory stimuli to evoke specific emotional responses. A limitation of using only visual or auditory stimuli is that these results are, in themselves, not easily generalized because a majority of real-life emotional experiences are a combination of both types of stimuli. Only recently have examinations of emotion used audiovisual displays of stimuli in their presentation, consisting of pictures of faces or humans paired with speech or classical music. Furthermore, most studies do not consider level of expertise, such as that of professional artists or musicians, which has been shown to affect cognitive processes such as memory and face recognition. Thus, it is logical to assume that the degree and quality of emotion evoked by a stimulus would also be affected by expertise. To this end, the present study examines the affect of expertise on aesthetic evaluations and emotional responses to auditory (music), visual (art), and audiovisual displays. Musicians, artists, and non-experts will be presented with emotion-eliciting visual and auditory stimuli, presented alone and together, and will report ratings of valence (whether the emotion is positive or negative), intensity of the emotion (weak or strong arousal), and several scales of aesthetics while an eye-tracker records physiological measures of ocular gaze (i.e., visual gaze path, fixation times, and pupil dilation). The use of eye-tracking equipment will add significant support to research on the effects of expertise on emotional and aesthetic responses to music and art, a research topic that has not relied on physiological measures in the past. The observations provided by subjective ratings in conjunction with physiological data will make important contributions to an improved understanding of the mechanisms involved in emotional reactions and the processes involved in the appreciation of music and art.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Susan T. Davis

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster

Aesthetic Evaluations and Emotional Responses Evoked by Paintings and Classical Music in Artists, Musicians, and Non-Experts