Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Clancy Dollinger, Stephanie


TITLE: THE SOUND OF MUSIC: THE INFLUENCE OF EVOKED EMOTION ON RECOGNITION MEMORY FOR MUSICAL EXCERPTS ACROSS THE LIFESPAN Socioemotional Selectivity Theory (Carstensen, 1999) posits that as people age, they selectively focus on positive aspects of emotional stimuli as opposed to negative as a way of regulating emotions. Thus, older adults remember positive information better than negative. This hypothesis has been tested extensively with visual stimuli, but rarely with auditory stimuli. Findings from this study provide support in the auditory domain. In this study, 135 younger, middle-aged, and older adults heard consonant (pleasant) and dissonant (unpleasant) musical excerpts. Participants were randomly assigned to either a Study Only condition, in which they heard excerpts and studied them for later recognition, a Rate Only condition, in which they rated the excerpts and were tested later in a surprise recognition test, or a Rate and Study condition, in which they rated and studied the excerpts for later recognition. Results indicated that younger, middle-aged and older adults remembered consonant (pleasant) musical excerpts better than dissonant (unpleasant) musical excerpts overall and provide support for the hypotheses of the Socioemotional Selectivity Theory.




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