Blame it on the bossa nova: Transfer of perceived sexiness from music to touch

J Exp Psychol Gen. 2017 Sep;146(9):1360-1365. doi: 10.1037/xge0000329.


Emotion elicited through music transfers to subsequent processing of facial expressions. Music may accordingly function as a social technology by promoting social bonding. Here, we investigated whether music would cross-modally influence the perception of sensual touch, a behavior related to mating. A robot applied precisely controlled gentle touch to a group of healthy participants while they listened to music that varied with respect to its perceived sexiness. As the perceived sexiness of the music increased, so did the subjective sexiness of the touch stimulations. In short, the perception of sexiness transferred from music to touch. Because sensual touch is key to mating behavior and relates to procreation, this association has implications for the universality and evolutionary significance of music. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Young Adult