Food & Paper: When do listeners attribute agency to music? (Jonna Katariina Vuoskoski)

This week's Food & Paper will be given by Jonna Katariina Vuoskoski from RITMO on the attribution of agency to music.



Social emotions have figured prominently in recent research pertaining to music-related emotions (e.g., Savage, et al., 2020). The implication is that music may be perceived in some way as akin to a human agent. Yet, as pointed out by Davies (1997), music (especially instrumental music) isn’t obviously an agent capable of feeling. Building on research linking sad-music liking to the fantasy facet of trait empathy, we hypothesised that those scoring high on the fantasy facet would be more likely to impute agency to music. In my talk, I will report the results of two recent experiments exploring individual differences in the attribution of agency to music, and discuss the implications of the findings.


Jonna Vuoskoski is an associate professor at the University of Oslo, and the leader of the Interaction and Pleasure research cluster at the RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time, and Motion. She received her doctorate from the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) in 2012, and has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Oxford and the University of Jyväskylä. Her main areas of interest are music-induced emotion, empathy, and the social and embodied cognition of music.

Published Nov. 21, 2021 11:56 PM - Last modified Dec. 15, 2021 9:36 AM