Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-55b6f6c457-dz7l6 Total loading time: 0.199 Render date: 2021-09-26T23:26:50.908Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Music as a dishonest signal

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2008

Sandra E. Trehub
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto–Mississauga, Mississauga, ON, CanadaL5L 1C6sandra.trehub@utoronto.ca


Instead of the discrete emotions approach adopted by Juslin & Västfjäll (J&V), the present perspective considers musical signals as functioning primarily to influence listeners in ways that are favorable to the signaler. Viewing music through the lens of social-emotional regulation fits with typical uses of music in everyday contexts and with the cross-cultural use of music for infant affect regulation.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Bachorowski, J. & Owren, M. (2003) Sounds of emotion: The production and perception of affect-related vocal acoustics. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1000:244–65.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Balkwill, L. L. & Thompson, W. F. (1999) A cross-cultural investigation of the perception of emotion in music: Psychophysical and cultural cues. Music Perception 17:4364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barrett, L. F. (2006) Solving the emotion paradox: Categorization and the experience of emotion. Personality and Social Psychology Review 10:2046.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bergeson, T. R. & Trehub, S. E. (2007) Signature tunes in mothers' speech to infants. Infant Behavior and Development 30:648–54.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dawkins, R. (1989) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
DeNora, T. (2000) Music in everyday life. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ellsworth, P. C. (2003) Confusion, concentration, and other emotions of interest: Commentary on Rozin and Cohen (2003). Emotion 3:8185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ellsworth, P. C. & Scherer, K. R. (2003) Appraisal processes in emotion. In: Handbook of affective sciences, ed. Davidson, R. J., Goldsmith, H. & Scherer, K. R., pp. 572–95. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Fernald, A. (1991) Prosody in speech to children: Prelinguistic and linguistic functions. Annals of Child Development 8:4380.Google Scholar
Izard, C. E. (2007) Basic emotions, natural kinds, emotion schemas, and a new paradigm. Perspectives on Psychological Science 2:260–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Juslin, P. N. & Laukka, P. (2003) Communication of emotions in vocal expression and music performance: Different channels, same code? Psychological Bulletin 129:770814.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nakata, T. & Trehub, S. E. (2004) Infants' responsiveness to maternal speech and singing. Infant Behavior and Development 27:455–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Russell, J. A. (2003) Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychological Review 110:145–72.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Scherer, K. R. (2000a) Emotions as episodes of subsystem synchronization driven by nonlinear appraisal processes. In: Emotion, development, and self-organization: Dynamic systems approaches to emotional development, ed. Lewis, M. D. & Granic, I., pp. 7099. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shenfield, T., Trehub, S. E. & Nakata, T. (2003) Maternal singing modulates infant arousal. Psychology of Music 31:365–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Silvia, P. J. (2008) Interest–The curious emotion. Current Directions in Psychological Science 17:5760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Singh, L., Morgan, J. L. & Best, C. T. (2002) Infants' listening preferences: Baby talk or happy talk? Infancy 3:365–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sloboda, J. A. & O'Neill, S. A. (2001) Emotions in everyday listening to music. In: Music and emotion: Theory and research, ed. Juslin, P. N. & Sloboda, J. A., pp. 415–29. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Tomkins, S. S. (1962) Affect, imagery, consciousness, vol. 1: The positive affects. Springer.Google Scholar
Trainor, L. J. (1996) Infant preferences for infant-directed versus noninfant-directed play songs and lullabies. Infant Behavior and Development 19:8392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trehub, S. E. & Trainor, L. J. (1998) Singing to infants: Lullabies and play songs. Advances in Infancy Research 12:4377.Google Scholar
Tsai, J. L. (2007) Ideal affect: Cultural causes and behavioral consequences. Perspectives on Psychological Science 2:242–59.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Werker, J. F. & McLeod, P. J. (1989) Infant preference for both male and female infant-directed talk: A developmental study of attentional and affective responsiveness. Canadian Journal of Psychology 43:230–46.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Zentner, M. R., Grandjean, D. & Scherer, K. R. (in press) Emotions evoked by the sound of music: Characterization, classification, and measurement. Emotion 8(4).Google Scholar
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Music as a dishonest signal
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Music as a dishonest signal
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Music as a dishonest signal
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *