Social Influences and Musical Emotion
Research has largely ignored the influence of social factors on emotions (Manstead, 2005). This is unfortunate, as music is commonly associated with many social aspects apparent in everyday life (North & Hargreaves, 2008). For example, peer groups are known to influence the musical preferences of adolescents (Müller, Glogner, & Rhein, 2007) and the social bonding aspects of music have been suggested as the origins of music (Cross, 2009; Freeman, 2000; McNeill, 1995).
Of course snowball is waaaaay cooler (and alone) so there are opposing arguments...
Empirical studies have been able to demonstrate supporting evidence in favour of a social bonding hypothesis. For example, Kirschner & Tomasello (2009, 2010) showed that children's drumming synchronisation improved in a social setting and that joint musical activity improved pro-social and cooperative behaviour. For more information about this you can see my MSc dissertation.
Another experiment by Wiltermuth (2010) revealed that moving and singing in synchrony can lead an individual to better comply with another's behavioural requests (even if for malicious reasons). Look at page 74 of the ICMPC11 conference proceedingspage 74 of the ICMPC11 conference proceedings. Other experiments report on the emotional responses to music which occur within the presence of others. Research examining strong experiences with music (SEM) has found social context to be an influential factor effecting emotional experiences (Gabrielsson & Lindström Wik, 2003) and more recently Lamont (2009) found SEMs to occur during live concerts. This bring to question: how does the presence of others alter emotional experience during music listening?
Others have suggested musical emotion to originate through different mechanisms, arguing that music research has failed to reach a consensus because it has either neglected the underlying psychological mechanisms responsible for evoking musical emotion or because it assumes that all music-induced emotion requires cognitive appraisal. Juslin and Västfjäll (2008) therefore explain how music is able to arouse emotion, giving examples such as the brain stem reflex, evaluative conditioning, visual imagery, episodic memory, musical expectancy, emotional contagion, and cognitive appraisal.
A study by Grewe, Nagel, Kopiez, and Altenmüller (2007b) adds further support to the idea that music-induced chills are not automatic reflex-like responses to sudden changes in sound. Interestingly, this group found no specific musical structures which induced chills across a majority of their participants. This suggest then that a cognitive appraisal is taking place during music listening and that this appraisal, triggered by attention-raising structures in the music, leads to a chills response. This implies that familiarity and preference also play a role in influencing the intensity of listeners' emotions and chill responses to music (Grewe et al., 2009; Salimpoor et al., 2009), and indeed music known to consistently and reliably evoke chills in an individual is often one that is extremely familiar (Blood & Zatorre, 2001).
Blood, A. J. & Zatorre, R. J. (2001). Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98(20),11818-11823.
Cross, I. (2009). The nature of music and its evolution. In S. Hallam, I. Cross, & M. Thaut (Eds.),The Oxford handbook of music psychologypp.3-13. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Egermann, H., Sutherland, M. E., Grewe, O., Nagel, F., Kopiez, R., & Altenmüller, E. (2011). Does music listening in a social context alter experience? A physiological and psychological perspective on emotion. Muicae Scientiae, 15(3), 307-323.
Freeman, W. J. (2000). A neurobiological role of music in social bonding. In N. Wallin, B. Merker, & S. Brown (Eds.), The origins of music(pp. 411-424). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Gabrielsson, A. & Lindstrom Wik, S. (2003). Strong experiences related to music: A descriptive system Musicae Scientiae, 7(2)157-217.
Grewe, O., Nagel, F., Kopiez, R., & Altenmüller, E. (2007). Listening to music as a re-creative process: Physiological, psychological and psychoacoustical correlates of chills and strong emotions. Music Perception, 24(3), 297-314.
Grewe, O., Kopiez, R., & Altenmüller, E. (2009). The chill parameter: Goosebumps and shivers as promising measures in emotion research. Music Perception, 27(1) 61-74.
Guhn, M., Hamm, A., & Zentner, M. (2007). Physiological and musico-acoustic correlates of the chill response. Music Perception, 24(5), 473-484.
Juslin, P. N. & Västfjäll, D. (2008). Emotional responses to music: Thee need to consider underlying mechanisms. Bhavioral and Brain Sciences, 31, 559-621.
Kirschner, S. & Tomasello, M. (2009). Joint drumming: Social context facilitates synchronisation in preschool children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102, 299-314.
Kirschner, S. & Tomasello, M. (2010). Joint music making promotes proscial behaviour in 4-year-old children. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(5), 354-364.
Lamont, A. (2009). Strong experiences of music in university students. In J. Louhivuori, T. Eerola, S. Saarikallio, T. Himberg, & P.-S. Eerola (Eds.), Proceedings of the 7th Triennial Conference of European Society for the Cognitive SCiences of Music (ESCOM) Jyväskylä, Finland, 12-16 August 2009, p. 250 [CD-ROM].
Manstead, A. S. R. (2005). The social dimension of emotion. The Psychologist, 18(8), 484-487.
McNeill, W. (1995). Keeping together in time. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Muller, R., Glogner, R., & Rhein, S. (2007). Die Theorie musikalischer Selbstsozialization: Elf Jahre. . .und ein bisschen weiser? [The theory of musical self-socializaiton: Eleven years. . .and a little bit more wise?]. Jahrbuch deer Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Musikpsychologie [Annual book of the German Society of Music Psychology], 19, 11-30.
North, A. & Hargreaves, D. (2008). The social and applied psychology of music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Panksepp, J. (1995). The emotional sources of 'chills' induced by music. Music Perception, 13(2), 171-207.
Panksepp, J. & Bernatzky, G. (2002). Emotional sounds and the brain: The neuro-affective foundations of music appreciation. Behavioural Processes, 60(2), 133-155.
Salimpoor, V. N., Benovoy, M., Longo, G., Cooperstock, J. R., & Zatorre, R. J. (2009). The rewarding aspects of music listening are related to degree of emotional arousal. PloS one, 4(10), e7487.
Scherer, K. R. (2004). Which emotions can be induced by music? What are the underlying mechanisms? And how can we measure them? Journal of New Music Research, 33(3), 239-251.
Sloboda, J. A. (1991). Music structure and emotional response: Some empirical findings. Psychology of Music, 19(2), 110-120.
Wiltermuth, S. (2010). Synchrony, compliance, and destructive obedience. In S. M. Demorest, S. J. Morriosn, & P. S. Campbell (Eds.), Procedings of the 11th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC). Seattle, WA, USA, 23-27 August 2010, p. 330 [CD-ROM].