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Polygence Scholar2022
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Aryahi Padmavati Narvekar

Class of 2025Princeton, NJ



  • "The effect of musical scale, theme, and beat on emotion and decision-making" with mentor Matthew (Mar. 18, 2023)

Project Portfolio

The effect of musical scale, theme, and beat on emotion and decision-making

Started Sept. 19, 2022

Abstract or project description

Aryahi is working on a project that falls within music psychology, cognitive psychology, and behavioral economics. Her interest is in how music affects emotions in a listener and their behaviors. Aryahi is taking a step beyond what exists in the field already in a few key ways. First, she is selecting real musical excerpts for their emotional and energetic content. It is typical in the field to use synthesized or MIDI music stimuli to facilitate greater control over the stimuli, but we are emphasizing naturalism in the experiment. Second, she is exploring features of music that typically aren't done, such as scale (e.g. pentatonic vs diatonic scale), intended thematic content of the music (e.g. as indexed by the lyrics of songs), and by manipulating the beat in low percussion (e.g. presence or absence of a kick drum). Finally, rather than simply looking at measures of emotional or aesthetic impact, she is focusing on value-based decision making. The question is whether different types of music encourage people to choose small gains in the short term or big gains in the long term. Currently she is writing a protocol and we will do a pilot study to work out any unknowns before the full-phase study.