Using psycholinguistic inquiry to measure emotional response to music: A feasibility study

Olivia Swedberg Yinger, D. Gregory Springer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software, which can analyze elements of language, has been used to measure emotional responses to film clips, yet the viability of LIWC to study emotional responses to music has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of using LIWC software to measure emotional responses to music. Undergraduate education majors (N = 56) listened to two 90-second musical excerpts, one happy and one sad. After each excerpt, participants wrote about induced and perceived emotional responses. A repeated-measures ANOVA used to analyze effects of excerpt, writing prompt, emotion and order revealed a significant main effect for emotion (p =.01). Significant interactions were found between emotion and excerpt (p <.001) and between excerpt, prompt and emotion (p =.005). Participants used significantly more positive emotion words than negative emotion words to describe the happy excerpt, and the reverse was true for the sad excerpt. Both writing prompts elicited the expected differences in emotional response; however, the perceived emotion prompt resulted in greater contrasts between positive and negative emotion words than the induced emotion prompt. Results indicate that it is feasible to use LIWC to measure emotional responses to music.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-614
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • discourse analysis
  • emotion
  • language
  • negative emotions
  • technology
  • valence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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