Sound events are known to have an influence on the listener’s emotions, but the reason for this influence is less clear. Take for example the sound produced by a gun firing. Does the emotional impact arise from the fact that the listener recognizes that a gun produced the sound (semantic content) or does it arise from the attributes of the sound created by the firing gun? This research explores the relation between the semantic similarity of the sound events and the elicited emotions. Results indicate that the semantic content seems to have a limited role in the conformation of the listener’s affective states. However, when the semantic content is matched to specific areas in the Arousal-Valence space or when the source’s spatial position is considered, the effect of the semantic content is higher, especially for the cases of medium to low valence and medium to high arousal or when the sound source is at the lateral positions of the listener’s head.
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