Affiliations: [a] Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Via dei Marsi 78, 00185 Roma, Italy | [b] Department of Philosophy, Communication and Performing Arts, Roma Tre University, Via Ostiense 234, 00146 Roma, Italy
Abstract: The point of affective technologies is to build artificial systems able to detect and induce emotions, possibly also in cases where Users have to do with processes of moral evaluation. The present work can be framed within the field of affective research since it tackles the relationship among music, emotions and moral judgement. Can simply listening to a music piece affect the harshness of a moral judgement? A priming experiment was run to answer this question. Participants (n=163) expressed moral judgements after listening to musical pieces inducing different emotions (Joy, Relaxation, Sadness, Annoyance). After reading some vignettes about moral transgressions and rating them, they were asked to fill in a self-report affect questionnaire concerning the emotions experienced during their listening and a test assessing musical sensitivity. In accordance with the literature, classic moral vignettes fell into two categories: “high emotional involvement” (HEI) vs. “low emotional involvement” (LEI). Results show that the effect of music was only present in the HEI moral questions, as predicted by Greene’s dual-process moral theory. The negative valence emotions (Sadness and Annoyance) worsened the harshness of participants’ moral judgements while the positive emotions (Joy and Relaxation) weakened it; in the most arousing ones (Joy and Annoyance) the effect was increased, and the annoyance condition determined the highest moral harshness.
Keywords: Affective priming, musical priming, moral judgement, music and emotions, emotion induction