BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Date of Submission



Dr. Sahar Nadeem Hamid, Assistant Professor and Chairperson Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


With the rise of globalization, numerous art forms, such as music, are appreciated across cultural boundaries even by individuals with no comprehension of foreign languages such as French or German. The current study argues that individuals perceive emotions through two methods: psychophysical cues and vocal expressions, which can be equated to instrumentals and lyrics, respectively. Vocal expressions are known to reinforce connections between attitudes and subcultures, making them a crucial part of evoking emotion in listeners. To study this phenomenon, the present study hypothesizes that listeners will rely on vocal expressions to perceive basic emotions when listening to linguistically unfamiliar music. To investigate this hypothesis an experiment was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, 20 participants listened to seven-second snippets of eight songs and sorted them into eight basic emotions (Pluchick, 1994). In the second phase, the songs were spliced into instrumentals and vocals and 60 participants were presented with the sixteen snippets and asked to mark the emotion they elicited on a forced-choice questionnaire. The results showed no significant link between emotional perception and vocal expression. There were also no significant results for gender differences. These results can be pinned down to the Music-Speech Continuum, The Brunswikian Lens Model, or the various limitations the researcher ran into.



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