SOME SOUNDS EVOKE UNIVERSAL
UCLA researchers have found that certain sounds are universally associated across
WHILE OTHER SOUNDS DEPEND
ON THE INDIVIDUAL
Bidgee [CC BY-SA 3.0 au (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.
0/au/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
The sound of thunder evokes
either a feeling of relaxation or
Fireworks evoke either a feeling of
nostalgia or anxiety.
By Frank Vincentz (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Victorgrigas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http:
//creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia
The sound of a vibrating cell
phone is perceived either as
annoying or exciting.
WHY DO EMOTIONAL
REACTIONS TO SOUND
VARY BY INDIVIDUAL?
LUND UNIVERSITY RESEARCH
Researchers from Sweden’s Lund University identified 6 psychological mechanisms by which
sound evokes emotions and helps to explain why the reaction is sometimes universal and
sometimes dependent on the person.
The 6 mechanisms:
1. Brainstem Reflex
2. Evaluative Conditioning
3. Emotional Contagion
4. Visual Imagery
5. Episodic Memory
6. Music Expectancy
Henry Vandyke Carter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When you hear a loud, unexpected, abrupt
sound, you are immediately compelled to
This reaction is hard-wired into your brain
to alert you to immediately respond to
potentially dangerous or important
By Allan Ajifo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia
A song played during your wedding
day may bring feelings of joy…
Photo by Tijl Vercaemer: https://www.flickr.
While the same song heard during a
funeral will produce the opposite
feelings of sadness.
Photo by Richard foster: https://www.flickr.
Research in the 1990s discovered “mirror
neurons” that activate in our brains when
we watch someone perform an action.
That’s why it’s hard to not smile and laugh
when you see others doing the same.
Photo by Johntex, 2006. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Sounds can evoke images which in
turn evoke emotions.
For example, do you enjoy listening
to the sounds of nature?
Try listening to an audio recording of
waves crashing and NOT visualizing
yourself lounging at the beach.
Sound can trigger both good and bad
memories, depending on how the sound
was paired with a single event.
That’s why the sound of lightning can create
fear and anxiety in those suffering from
post-traumatic-stress-disorder from combat
experience, for example.
By TraumaAndDissociation: https://www.flickr.com/photos/traumaanddissociation/15799064142
Ktims at the English language Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Music is nothing more than a random
assortment of sounds…
Music is emotionally appealing only
because your brain imposes order
and structure to the sounds…
Your expectations about rhythm and
melody provide this order and
structure, and therefore your
When you lose your hearing, you not only lose the ability to
You also lose the emotional impact associated with those
THE EFFECTS OF HEARING LOSS
By Mwanner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.
org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via
During hikes, you miss out
on the faint sounds of
By Vancouver 125 - The City of Vancouver from Vancouver, Canada [CC BY 2.0 (http:
//creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Music loses its emotional punch
when you can’t hear certain
By Ben Schumin (Flickr: Mircom Fire Alarm Horn/Strobe) [CC BY-SA 2.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia
You increase your risk of injury
when you can’t hear alarms.
TREATING HEARING LOSS
The bottom line: hearing is more important to our lives—and to our emotional lives—
than we probably realize. It also means that treating your hearing loss will probably
have a greater impact than you realize, too.
What are some of your favorite sounds? What emotions do they evoke?