How Sounds, Shapes, Speech and Body Movements Convey Emotion Through One Shared Property

Posted on July 11, 2019

Sounds and shapes often make us feel a certain way due to the emotional tone they convey. When we look at certain fonts, a particular mood or feeling is induced in us. We often see a cursive font used on romantic movie and book titles, and edgy fonts for death metal band icons.

Findings from a new study has shown that feelings are conveyed through what we sense because of the spectral centroid, which is a combination of high and low frequency energies in sounds and shapes. As a result of integrating these frequencies, we experience an emotional arousal.

Researchers aimed to investigate the processes behind our ability to receive emotional information from what we see or touch. This is crucial to our core emotional state. The study found that individuals unconsciously derive an average of the frequency spectrum from what they see and hear, resulting in the spectral centroid.

To further understand if the spectral centroid is needed for experiencing emotional arousal, a few experiments were conducted. These studies required participants to describe the emotions they felt when exposed to different shapes, sounds and movements. The data collected revealed that shapes and sounds with a high spectral centroid induced high-arousal emotions like anger and excitement, while lower spectral centroid shapes and sounds were related to low-arousal emotions such as sadness.

Therefore, the spectral centroid explains why certain images match specific music or speech. They induce similar emotions in individuals due to the spectral centroid, hence we associate them with each other. One such example would be how we commonly associating clouds and lullabies – even though they are perceived through different senses, they induce similar emotions in us.


Source material from Science Daily

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