Musical aptitude and emotional intelligence
Gleason, Morgan E.
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Prior literature has demonstrated a strong link between musical ability and trait emotional intelligence (Juslin & Laukka, 2003; Juslin & Sloboda, 2001; Lima & Castro, 2011; Trimmer & Cuddy, 2008).The current study seeks to expand on this by including variability in quality of music production as a predictor variable and employing comprehensive measures of emotional intelligence. Past literature has operationally defined musical ability as either duration of musical training or self-reported musicianship (Bigand, Vieillard, Madurell, Marozeau & Dacquet, 2005; Resnicow & Salovey & Repp, 2004;Trimmer & Cuddy, 2008). Moreover, prior studies have measured emotional intelligence by assessing participants' ability to identify inflection in speech or valence of musical pieces (Lima & Castro, 2011; Juslin & Lukka, 2003; Juslin & Laukka, 2003; Juslin & Sloboda, 2001; Trimmer & Cuddy, 2008). This study seeks to expand on these findings by identifying a potential mediating effect of musical ability on the moderating effect of musical training on emotional intelligence. We propose that although musical ability enhances emotional intelligence, this relationship is a function of ability rather than the result of mere training. In order to examine how musical ability informs emotional intelligence. Participants will create original compositions that will later be appraised by knowledgeable musicians. We will utilize both text-based and an ability-based measures to asses trait emotional intelligence. Participants’ musical perception abilities and personality traits also be assessed. Primarily, we expect to find that musical ability, (i.e. the quality of music produced) will mediate the effect of training on emotional intelligence. We propose that musical ability will be a stronger predictor than duration of training on emotional intelligence. The study of music and emotion has been fraught with controversy. Scholars from differing paradigms disagree about the ultimate purpose of musical expression, and on its potential to influence the human emotional state. For instance, numerous studies challenge whether music can induce “genuine” or “every day” emotions (Noy, 1993; Scherer, 2003). Others maintain that music serves no obvious adaptive function in humans (Huron, 2001; Pinker, 1997) and that this “auditory cheesecake” arose accidentally as a byproduct of other processes that is “merely meant to tickle…our mental faculties” (Pinker, 1997, p. 534). Although this perspective seems extreme, postulating as to the bygone purpose of music is somewhat problematic. After all, evolutionary traits change over time (Reeve & Sherman, 1993), making it difficult to find convincing evidence as to the adaptive role music served. One common explanation points to “cross-modal similarities” between music and language and indicates they evolved from common origin (Brown, 2000). Although this explanation is controversial, there is evidence that musical representation could generate emotive expression because of similarities shared with vocal patterns found in speech (Thompson, Shallenberg & Husain, 2001). Given the underlying acoustic similarities between vocal and musical expression (Budd, 1985; Davies, 2001; Gabrielsson & Juslin, 2003; Salovey & Mayer, 1990; Juslin & Laukka, 2003) it seems justifiable to say that a key function of music is to communicate emotion (Juslin & Sloboda, 2001; Behne, 1997). It is clear from recent experimental work that music has an intense effect on arousal and mood (Blood & Zattore, 2001; Thompson, Shallenberg & Husain, 2001) thereby confirming that musical expression facilitates communication of feelings. For instance, Blood and Zattore (2001) examined the pleasure responses experienced by participants while listening to music, using an FMRI machine. The researchers concluded that simply listening to music activated award centers and regions of the brain implicated in the experience of deep emotional states. This research seeks to further examine the connection between emotions and musical ability.
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