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Music Tonality and Context-Dependent Recall: The Influence of Key Change and Mood Mediation.

Mead, Katharine M. L. and Ball, Linden J. (2007) Music Tonality and Context-Dependent Recall: The Influence of Key Change and Mood Mediation. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19 (1). pp. 59-79. ISSN 1464-0635

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    Music in a minor key is often claimed to sound sad, whereas music in a major key is typically viewed as sounding cheerful. Such claims suggest that maintaining or switching the tonality of a musical selection between information encoding and retrieval should promote robust “mood-mediated” context-dependent memory (CDM) effects. The reported experiment examined this hypothesis using versions of a Chopin waltz where the key was either reinstated or switched at retrieval, so producing minor- -minor, major--major, minor--major and major--minor conditions. Better word recall arose in reinstated-key conditions (particularly for the minor--minor group) than in switched-key conditions, supporting the existence of tonality-based CDM effects. The tonalities also induced different mood states. The minor key induced a more negative mood than the major key, and participants in switched-key conditions demonstrated switched moods between learning and recall. Despite the association between music tonality and mood, a path analysis failed to reveal a reliable mood-mediation effect. We discuss why mood-mediated CDM may have failed to emerge in this study, whilst also acknowledging that an alternative “mental-context” account can explain our results (i.e., the mental representation of music tonality may act as a contextual cue that elicits information retrieval).

    Item Type: Article
    Journal or Publication Title: European Journal of Cognitive Psychology
    Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19 (1), 2007, © Informa Plc
    Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
    Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Psychology
    ID Code: 11112
    Deposited By: Dr Linden J. Ball
    Deposited On: 01 Aug 2008 10:21
    Refereed?: Yes
    Published?: Published
    Last Modified: 19 Feb 2016 01:04
    Identification Number:

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