Internship Project
Musicology and Media Studies

Emotional contagion and multimedia

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,
Department of Musicology and Media Studies
Subject Area
Empirical musicology/music psychology/media studies
Position filled in 2023.

Internship Modality:
On-site internship in Berlin
Online internship

Project Supervisor(s)
Dr. Mats Küssner
Dr. George Athanasopoulos
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (from third year) 
Master's students 
Ph.D. students 
English; Greek (C1) - it is essential that the candidate speaks Greek to an advanced level, as the multimedia stimuli being used in the experiments are in Greek.
Project Type
Academic Research
Project Content
This project aims to assess which method of targeted exposure to customized stimuli of music, text, video, or mixed (under monitored conditions and presented in an appropriate context) can be utilized as a means to modify entrenched socio-cultural beliefs via emotional contagion (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994). Advancements in cognitive/emotional/behavioural-focused studies in how to effectively measure empathy (Davis, 1983), compassion (Raes et al. 2011), well-being (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) and socio-cultural identifiers of human behaviour (Van Der Veer et al., 2011), provide a more focused and targeted approach on how to mobilize interventions which have been shown to affect the human psyche.

The project has two objectives: first, to examine which stimulus method of inducing emotions can alter negatively entrenched socio-cultural parameters of xenophobia and racism by assessing the role of media information and its narrative; second, to promote a subtle, non-invasive and cost-efficient method of increasing empathy towards marginalized communities by host populations (Kirkwood, 2017). 

With this project, we are eager to explore further links between sensory stimuli and socio-cultural scales and use this approach as a potential method of affecting mood in this manner. Potential findings will generate evidence which can alter the way we think about external audiovisual/textual stimuli and human behaviour in general. The empirical results may open up new avenues for exploring novel methodological approaches how to combat xenophobia and racism, thus radically enhancing our potential to find methods to increase empathy.

Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,44,113–126.

Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J.T., & Rapson, R.L. (1994). Emotional contagion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kirkwood, S. (2017). The humanisation of refugees: A discourse analysis of UK parliamentary debates on the European refugee ‘crisis’. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 27(2), 115-125.

Raes, F., Pommier, E., Neff, K. D., & Van Gucht, D. (2011). Construction and factorial validation of a short form of the self‐compassion scale. Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, 18(3), 250-255.

Van Der Veer, K., Yakushko, O., Ommundsen, R., & Higler, L. (2011). Cross-national measure of fear-based xenophobia: development of a cumulative scale. Psychological reports, 109(1), 27-42.

Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. Journal of personality and social psychology, 54(6), 1063.

Tasks for Interns
Processing and data analysis using any of the following statistics packages (MS Excel, JASP, R, SPSS or equivalent); 
preparation of results report
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (from third year) 
Master's students 
Ph.D. students 
Familiarity with quantitative and qualitative statistics in social sciences is essential, including a demonstrable applied knowledge in working with MS Excel sheets, JASP, or any similar statistics package. Experience with conducting experiments using Qualtrics will be considered a bonus.
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For more information on the Humboldt Internship Program or the project, please contact the program coordinator.