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Anger, disgust, and resulting action tendencies in the context of moral judgements of music

Rolfe, Heather (2019) Anger, disgust, and resulting action tendencies in the context of moral judgements of music. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:73195)


In media examples throughout history, discussion of controversial music often features emotional condemnation of the music on moral grounds. This makes little intuitive sense given that the moral emotions are usually associated with objects which are harmful or contaminating. Music is neither capable of causing direct harm nor contamination: as such, exploring anger and disgust in this context may shed new light on how these emotions are elicited and what action tendencies they may motivate. The first two studies presented in this thesis were carried out using open-ended methods: in Study 1 (n = 90), participants asked to describe a time they were disgusted by music most frequently mentioned a variety of immoral content types. This finding replicated in Study 2 (n = 94), which also suggested that anger responds to music which is harmful for personal reasons. Quantitative measures in the second study suggested five underlying factors of reasons for anger and disgust at music, which supported the qualitative findings by demonstrating a pattern of disgust at immoral factors and anger at personal factors. In Studies 3 (n = 106) and 4 (n = 85), the pattern of action tendencies elicited by anger and disgust at music suggest that disgusting music leads to interest in approaching the music in a hostile manner to cleanse its content from society, thus preventing the spread of immoral values. Bad aesthetics was found to elicit similar levels of disgust as immoral content but without the resulting higher levels of hostile approach tendencies. Study 5 presents a preliminary study into moralization of music which contaminates a preferred genre amongst highly-identified fans. The implications of these results for the wider field of research into the moral emotions, as well as the viability of ongoing research into this topic, are then discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Giner-Sorolla, Roger
Uncontrolled keywords: morality emotion music anger disgust
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2019 13:10 UTC
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 03:19 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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