The effect of intensity levels upon physiological and subjective affective response to rock music

Claire V. Wilson, Leona S. Aiken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


While hard rock remains a currently prevalent music form, the nature of emotional responses to it has been virtually ignored by the behavioral sciences. The physiological indicators of GSR, heart rate, and respiration rate were examined as a function of intensity level of hard rock music versus simulated white noise of matched intensities. Subjective measures employed were a 10-point rating scale and the Gough Adjective Check List. Skin resistance decreased, breathing rate increased, and heart rate decelerated. These physiological responses are consistent with arousal, coupled with an orienting response. In contrast with physiological measures, subjective measures of preference differentiated individual music selections. Furthermore, varying patterns of mood adjective endorsement were found as a function of intensity level of the music. In sum, physiological responses suggested a general arousal-attention state while subjective responses differentiated specific instances and intensity levels of the music ensemble. Conclusions from these data are restricted to those expressing a preference for rock music.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-76
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Music Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1977


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Music

Cite this