Research seminars

Jonna Vuoskoski: Being moved by music – A prosocial emotional response?

Event details

Speaker: Jonna Vuoskoski (University of Oslo)

Date: 24 January 2019

Time: 5.15 - 6.30pm.  

Venue: Lecture Room A, Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9DF


Musical engagement (music-making, listening and dancing) involves and fosters a number of processes that are associated with empathy, such as emotional contagion, embodied resonance, entrainment, and social bonding. One example of such a process is the feeling of ‘being moved’ – a powerful, rewarding experience often accompanied by chills, tears, and a sense of connection. In the past few years, ‘being moved’ has attracted increasing research interest as a distinct emotional response with prosocial functions and motivations – also in the context of the arts (e.g., Wassiliwizky et al., 2015; Eerola et al., 2016). ‘Being moved’ is typically characterized as a mixed or predominantly positive emotion, with joy and sadness as its main ingredients. In the context of music listening, feelings of being moved are closely related to empathic personality traits, and have been found to mediate the enjoyment of sad music (Vuoskoski & Eerola, 2017). Building on empirical evidence from my recent work, I will argue that the experiences of ‘being moved’ in the context of music listening are inherently social responses with prosocial motivations and functions.


Jonna Vuoskoski is Associate Professor in Music Cognition at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her position is shared between the Departments of Musicology and Psychology, and she is also part of the RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time, and Motion. After completing her PhD at the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research (University of Jyväskylä) in 2012, Vuoskoski has held postdoctoral positions at the Universities of Oxford (UK) and Jyväskylä (Finland). Her main areas of interest are music-induced emotion, empathy, and the social and embodied cognition of music.


Jan 24 2019 -

Jonna Vuoskoski: Being moved by music – A prosocial emotional response?

Jonna Vuoskoski explores the connection between musical activities and empathy, based on empirical evidence from the field of music cognition.

Lecture Room A
Alison House
12 Nicolson Square