Sheffield students visit and present at SEMPRE Music & Empathy conference at University of Hull

SEMPRE study day image

Psychology of Music at the University of Sheffield was well represented at the SEMPRE Music & Empathy Conference with 7 MA students, 2 PhD students and a staff member visiting. Julian Cespedes and Ioanna Filippidi presented their work. Ioanna Filippidi received the SEMPRE travel grant award.


Julian Cespedes Guevara, Nicola Dibben and Maria Witek. ‘Does rhythmic entrainment induce pleasure?’

Although several authors have speculated that rhythmic entrainment induces positive affect (e.g. Juslin & Vastfjäll, 2008; Clayton et al. 2004), so far there is no direct experimental evidence to support this. Therefore, the experiment hereby reported aimed to test the hypothesis that moving in time with music induces pleasure. Six short rhythmic musical stimuli with three different levels of syncopation (low, medium, high), were presented to fourty-four participants, who were divided into two groups: the first was asked to move in time with the music (by tapping with one of their fingers and feet), and the second was asked to listen without moving. The changes in the affect level of the participants were measured using an indirect technique taken from Niedenthal et al. (2001). It was found that participants in the ‘tapping’ condition did not experience more positive affect than the participants in the ‘stationary’ condition; and that participants experienced higher levels of positive affect when tapping to syncopated stimuli. These findings suggest that effect of musical entrainment on the induction of pleasure is the result of the interaction between the expectations aroused by syncopated rhythms and the movements of the listener, who “enacts” the pulse of the music.

Ioanna Filippidi. ‘Music within: Potential causes of music imagery and its relationship to music listening.’

This study intended to shed some light in the phenomenon of musical imagery, and the possibility of its causative relationship with music listening, through the process of associative learning. Although musical imagery has been fairly researched, the causal processes remain unidentified. It has been established from previous studies that involuntary musical imagery episodes occur very often in the majority of people (Liikkanen, 2008), and under various circumstances and reasons (Williamson et al, 2011). However the underlying reason is not clear, in the form of a cognitive mechanism that incites the phenomenon. Music is present in the activities of our everyday life and we use it consciously for specific reasons, according to our daily routine, personality and age. This study is based upon the theory that this routine of the uses of music is causing an involuntary and unconscious training, according to the theory of associative learning. A set of hypotheses was created, in order to establish such a connection. This study explored these hypotheses with a combination of a questionnaire and diary project. The findings from both methods suggest that it appears to be a relationship between these two functions. Several participants reported experience mi in the absence of music, either when they wanted to listen to music, or when they were doing an activity usually combined with music. The findings appear encouraging for further