Emotion and meaning in interpretation of sound sources
Journal article, 2008

Research regarding the perception of sound focuses in large on the acoustical properties of the sound. We argue that, for a more complete picture of sound perception, one must take the non‐physical properties into account. By changing the emotional descriptor of a sound the perception in terms of level of annoyance will change. The present study investigates how a priming picture placing the origin of the sound in either a positive or negative environment affects the level of annoyance to same sound. Three different sounds were used in the experiment, all based on pink noise. The participants were, in the beginning of each sound, exposed to a picture telling where the sound originated. The picture was either a positive environment (a picture of a waterfall) or a negative environment (a picture of a larger factory). While listening to the sounds the participants completed different performance tasks. In the end of each sound the participants rated the level of annoyance. Results show that the annoyance ratings are significantly lower when primed with a positive picture. Results also indicate that for more attention demanding tasks this correlation is stronger. The findings are discussed in relation to theories of sound perception.


sound perception



Penny Bergman

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Applied Acoustics

Daniel Västfjäll

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Applied Acoustics

Niklas Fransson

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Building Services Engineering

Anders Sköld

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Applied Acoustics

Journal of Acoustical Society of America

Vol. 123 3567-

Subject Categories


Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics



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