Attentive and Emotional Listening to Music: The Role of Positive and Negative Affect
Aufmerksames und emotionales Musikhören: Die Rolle positiven und negativen Affekts

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Bernhard Leipold
Tim Loepthien


In a cross-sectional study, associations of global affect with two ways of listening to music – attentive-analytical listening (AL) and emotional listening (EL) – were examined. Based on a two-dimensional model of general affect, we focused on the degrees to which AL and EL are differentially correlated with positive and negative affect. In addition to bivariate relationships, the interactions between different states of general affect were tested. In Study 1, a sample of 1,291 individuals responded to questionnaires on listening to music, positive affect (PA), and negative affect (NA). We used the PANAS, which measures PA and NA as high arousal dimensions. AL was positively correlated with PA, EL with NA. Moderation analyses showed stronger associations between PA and AL when NA was low. Study 2 (N = 499 participants) differentiated between three facets of affect and focused, in addition to PA and NA, on the role of relaxation. Similar to the findings of Study 1, AL was correlated with PA, EL with NA and PA. Moderation analyses indicated that the degree to which PA was associated with an individual´s tendency to listen to music attentively depended on their degree of relaxation. In addition, the correlation between PA and EL was stronger for individuals who were more relaxed; for individuals who were less relaxed, the correlation between NA and EL was stronger. In sum, the results demonstrate not only simple bivariate correlations, but also that the expected associations vary, depending on the different affective states. We argue that the results reflect a dual function of listening to music, which includes emotional regulation and information processing.

attentive-analytical listening; emotional listening; negative affect; positive affect; relaxation

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