A perceptual bias for increasing loudness

loudness change and its role in music and mood

Kirk N. Olsen, Catherine Stevens, Julien Tardieu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


Based on the premise that loudness change and rate of change are important in music and elicit an adaptive biological response (interpreted as an emotional reaction), two experiments investigated the effect that timbre (e.g., violin versus voice) of various layers (e.g., chord versus unison) and duration have on the overestimation of loudness change – or the ‘bias for rising intensities’ [1]. Physiological response and emotional arousal – Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) – was also measured. Pairs of 60-90dB ramped (increasing intensity) and damped (decreasing intensity) stimuli (of identical spectral content) were presented to participants. In all conditions the perceptual ‘bias for rising intensities’ was recovered. Measures of GSR indicated that both ramped and damped musical stimuli elicit reliable increases in physiological arousal. However, differences in GSR latency may suggest two qualitatively different response patterns. Overall, results support the hypothesis that short musical stimuli of increasing intensity elicit perceptual and physiological effects underpinned by an adaptive mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Inaugural International Conference on Music Communication Science
EditorsE. Schubert, K. Buckley, R. Eliott, B. Koboroff , J. Chen, C. Stevens
Place of PublicationUniversity of New South Wales
PublisherARC Research Network in Human Communication Science (HCSNet)
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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