Using an affective priming paradigm, we demonstrated that the affective tone of musical chords influences the evaluation of target words. In Experiment 1, participants heard either consonant chords with three tones or dissonant chords with four tones as primes and then saw a positive or a negative word as target. Even participants who were unaware of the hypothesis of the experiment evaluated target words faster if the words were preceded by a similarly valenced chord (e.g., consonant-holiday) as compared to affectively incongruent chord-word pairs (e.g. dissonanthumor). In Experiment 2, results of Experiment 1 were replicated even when chord density was held constant at three tones per chord. Results suggest that the affective tone of single musical elements is automatically extracted and might therefore be viewed as a basic process contributing to the strong connection between music and affect.

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