Does perceived exertion influence perceived affect in response to music? Investigating the "FEELA" hypothesis

Kirk N. Olsen, Roger T. Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Time-series modeling of perceived affect in response to a range of instrumental and sound based music has shown that continuously perceived arousal, and to a lesser extent, perceived valence, are well modeled when predictors include listener engagement, perceptual loudness, and acoustic factors such as intensity and spectral flatness. A ‘FEELA’ hypothesis has been proposed to explain processes underlying production and perception of affect in music: FEELA suggests a chain of contributing factors such as the Force and Effort (realized here throughout as physical exertion) required for a performer to produce a musical sound, the Energy of the resulting sound (realized as acoustic intensity), and the experience of the listener in the form of perceived Loudness and Arousal. The present study investigated the early portions of this process by asking whether listeners’ continuous perception of physical exertion required to produce music from a range of genres contributes to and strengthens previous time-series models of perceived affect. An analysis of factors in the perception of exertion in the context of eight excerpts of Classical and Electroacoustic music was first undertaken. Results showed that acoustic intensity, perceived source complexity, and event density contributed in varying degrees to the perception of exertion. When these four factors were included in time-series models of affect in response to five excerpts of music, results showed that when human agency is apparent in the production of classical or electroacoustic music, non-musicians' perception of exertion required in producing the music is pertinent to the perception of arousal and to a lesser extent, valence. With the more abstract sound-sculpted electroacoustic pieces of music where human agency is not always apparent, listeners could identify exertion when required, but it was not influential in their perception of arousal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-269
Number of pages13
JournalPsychomusicology : music, mind, and brain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • affect
  • exertion
  • music perception
  • time-series analysis


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