Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 341–348

The development of emotional responses to music in young children


  • Andrew H. Gregory
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Manchester
  • Lisa Worrall
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Manchester
  • Ann Sarge
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Manchester

DOI: 10.1007/BF02856522

Cite this article as:
Gregory, A.H., Worrall, L. & Sarge, A. Motiv Emot (1996) 20: 341. doi:10.1007/BF02856522


Children aged 3 to 4 and 7 to 8 years listened to eight tunes which were either in the major or minor mode and either unaccompanied melody or harmonized. For each tune children selected one of two schematic faces chosen to depict happy or sad facial expressions. Children 7 to 8 years old showed a significant major-happy and minor-sad connotation, which was also shown by adults. However 3 to 4 year-olds did not show any such significant association between musical mode and emotional response. Harmonic accompaniment significantly increased the frequency of happy responses. The results support the idea of a learned association between mode and emotional response.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996