The emotional power of environmental sounds affects our sensory experiences

This 2015 Chinese/Australian study found:

“Human emotions systematically track changes in the acoustic environment, affecting not only how we experience those sounds but also how we perceive facial expressions in other people.

Three changes in acoustic attributes known to signal emotional states in speech and music [frequency spectrum, intensity, and rate] were imposed upon 24 environmental sounds.

Evolution promotes development in the direction toward selective advantage. Thus, it is reasonable to suggest that the capacity to track changes in the acoustic environment evolved before the development of a vocalization system for emotional communication.

Regardless of the evolutionary implications of the effect, the findings illustrate the emotional power of environmental sounds on both our experience of sounds and our evaluations of accompanying visual stimuli.”

Here are the sounds used in the study:

“Human actions (breathing, chatting, chewing, clapping, stepping, typing), animal sounds (bird, cat, cricket, horse, mosquito, rooster), machine noise (car engine, electrical drill, helicopter, jet plane, screeching tires, train), and sounds in nature (dripping water, rain, river, thunder, waves, wind)”

Does this emotional communication’s frequency spectrum, intensity, and rate affect your perception of her face? “Human emotions track changes in the acoustic environment”


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