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Emoacoustics: A Study of the Psychoacoustical and Psychological Dimensions of Emotional Sound Design

Even though traditional psychoacoustics has provided indispensable knowledge about auditory perception, it has, in its narrow focus on signal characteristics, neglected listener and contextual characteristics. To demonstrate the influence of the meaning the listener attaches to a sound in the resulting sensations we used a Fourier-time-transform processing to reduce the identifiability of 18 environmental sounds. In a listening experiment, 20 subjects listened to and rated their sensations in response to, first, all the processed stimuli and then, all original stimuli, without being aware of the relationship between the two groups. Another 20 subjects rated only the processed stimuli, which were primed by their original counterparts. This manipulation was used in order to see the difference in resulting sensation when the subject could tell what the sound source is. In both tests subjects rated their emotional experience for each stimulus on the orthogonal dimensions of valence and arousal, as well as perceived annoyance and perceived loudness for each stimulus. They were also asked to identify the sound source. It was found that processing caused correct identification to reduce substantially, while priming recovered most of the identification. While original stimuli induced a wide range of emotional experience, reactions to processed stimuli were emotionally neutral. Priming manipulation reversed the effects of processing to some extent. Moreover, even though the 5th percentile Zwickers-loudness (N5) value of most of the stimuli was reduced after processing, neither perceived loudness nor auditory-induced emotion changed accordingly. Thus indicating the importance of considering other factors apart from the physical sound characteristics in sound design.

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JAES Volume 60 Issue 1/2 pp. 21-28; January 2012
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