Mimi O’Neill

Music Psychology Assistant


Mimi graduated with a music degree from The University of York in 2016. She then continued on to study an MA in music psychology, as well as taking on the role of YMPG assistant.

During her masters, Mimi conducted a literature review which sought to examine existing theories of empathy, and research that has been conducted, in an attempt to clarify the ambiguity surrounding this concept.

In her second term Mimi and Lottie replicated the work by Eerola, Vuoskoski and Kautianinen testing the assumption that being moved by unfamiliar sad music is associated with high empathy. This replication was designed using the theory, hypotheses and methods of the aforementioned study to inform the decisions made. However, due to some limitations in resources and other academic reasoning there were some alterations to the design. This paper initially discusses the existing research and theory related to the study, such as trait theory and the theory that sad music elicits oxymoronic feelings of sadness that are pleasurable. Previous explanations as to why this might be and why this research is new in terms of the use of unfamiliar sad music as a stimulus, thus nullifying many of the previous induction mechanisms and explanations.

For her final thesis project Mimi conducted research on the affects of induced empathy on emotional responses to music. Music is well documented as being a highly emotive art form. There are multifarious theories as to how emotional responses are elicited, many of which attribute empathy as being in part responsible. However, there are fewer empirical studies seeking to prove or disprove these theories and astonishingly no universally acknowledged definition of the phenomenon.

This research was designed to empirically test situational empathy as a regulator of emotional responses to music. The study involved participants, recruited online, rating various measures following exposure to four different musical experts.

More information on her findings following submission of this work.


Mimi is thrilled to be beginning her PhD study in York with a focus on the affects of synchronised music making on prosocial behaviour in children. She will also be continuing on at the YMPG assistant and will be taking on the position of Graduate Teaching assistant for both Music Psychology and the Music Education Masters.