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Music is a cross-cultural universal, a ubiquitous activity found in every known human culture. Individuals demonstrate manifestly different preferences in music, and yet relatively little is known about the underlying structure of those preferences. We have interpreted and labeled these factors as: 1 a Mellow factor comprising smooth and relaxing styles; 2 an Urban factor defined largely by rhythmic and percussive music, such as is found in rap, funk, and acid jazz; 3 a Sophisticated factor that includes classical, operatic, world, and jazz; 4 an Intense factor defined by loud, forceful, and energetic music; and 5 a Campestral factor comprising a variety of different styles of direct, and rootsy music such as is often found in country and singer-songwriter genres.

The findings from a fourth study suggest that preferences for the MUSIC factors are affected by both the social and auditory characteristics of the music. Music is everywhere we go.

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It is piped into retail shops, airports, and train stations. It accompanies movies, television programs, and ball games. Manufacturers use it to sell their products, while yoga, massage, and exercise studios use it to relax or invigorate their clients.

In addition to all of these uses of music as a background, a form of sonic wallpaper imposed on us by others, many of us seek out music for our own listening — indeed, Americans spend more on music than they do on prescription drugs Huron, Taken together, background and intentional music listening add up to more than 5 hours a day of exposure to music for the average American Levitin, ; McCormick, When it comes to self-selected music, individuals demonstrate manifestly different tastes.

Remarkably, however, little is known about the underlying principles on which such individual musical preferences are based.


A challenge to such an investigation is that music is used for many different purposes. Historically, music has also been used for social bonding, comfort, motivating or coordinating physical labor, the preservation and transmission of oral knowledge, ritual and religion, and the expression of physical or cognitive fitness for a review, see Levitin, from these investigations suggest that there exists a structure underlying music preferences, with fairly similar music-preference factors emerging across studies.

Independent investigations e. The degree of convergence across those studies is encouraging because it suggests that the psychological basis for music preferences is firm. However, despite the consistency, it is not entirely what it is about music that attracts people.

Or, are music preferences shaped by social factors? The aim of the present research is to inform our understanding of the nature of music preferences. Specifically, we argue that research on individual differences in music preferences has been limited by conceptual and methodological constraints that have hindered our understanding of the psychological and social factors underlying preferences in music.

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This work aims to correct these shortcomings with the goal of advancing theory and research on this important topic. Cattell and Anderson conducted one of the first investigations of individual differences in music preferences. Their aim was to develop a method for assessing dimensions of unconscious personality traits.

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These investigators attempted to interpret 12 factors, which they explained in terms of unconscious personality traits. For example, musical excerpts with fast tempos defined one factor, labeled surgencyand excerpts characterized by melancholy and slow tempos defined another factor, labeled sensitivity.

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It was not until some 50 years later that research on individual differences in music preferences resurfaced. More specifically, current research on music preferences draws from interactionist theories e. As a starting point for testing that hypothesis, researchers have begun to map the landscape of music-genre preferences with the aim of identifying its structure. For example, Rentfrow and Gosling examined individual differences in preferences for 14 broad music genres in three US samples.

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In a study of music preferences among Dutch adolescents, Delsing and colleagues Delsing, et al. And Colley investigated self-reported preferences for 11 music genres in a small sample of British university students.

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Her revealed four factors for women and five for men. Specifically, three factors, sophisticated comprising classical, blues, jazz, operaheavy rock, heavy metaland rebellious rap, reggaeemerged for both men and women, but the mainstream country, folk, chart pop factor that emerged for women split into traditional country, folk and pop chart pop for men. However, not all studies of music preference structure have obtained as similar findings.

For example, George, Stickle, Rachid, and Wopnford studied individual differences in preferences for 30 music genres in sample of Canadian adults. Even though the are not identical, there does appear to be a considerable degree of convergence across these studies. Indeed, in every sample three factors emerged that were very similar: One factor was defined mainly by classical and jazz music; another factor was defined largely by rock and heavy metal music; and the third factor was defined by rap and hip-hop music.

There was also a factor comprising mainly country music that emerged in all the samples in which singer-songwriter or story-telling music was included i. And in half the studies there was a factor composed mostly of new age and electronic styles of music. Thus, there appears to be at least four or perhaps five robust music-preference factors.

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Although research on individual differences in music preferences has revealed some consistent findings, there are ificant limitations that impede theoretical progress in the area. One limitation is based on the fact that there is no consensus about which music genres to study. Indeed, few researchers even appear to use systematic methods to select genres or even provide explanations about how it was decided which genres to study.

Consequently, different researchers focus on different music genres, with some studying as few as 11 Colley, ; Delsing, et al. Ultimately, these different foci yield inconsistent findings and make it difficult to compare across studies. Another ificant limitation stems from the reliance on music genres as the unit for assessing preferences. This is a problem because genres are extremely broad and ill-definedso measurements based solely on genres are necessarily crude and imprecise. Furthermore, not all pieces of music fit neatly into a single genre. Many artists and pieces of music are genre defying or cross multiple genres, so genre do not apply equally well to every piece of music.

Assessing preferences from genres is also problematic because it assumes that participants are sufficiently knowledgeable with every music genre that they can provide fully informed reports of their preferences. This is potentially problematic for comparing preferences across different age groups where people from older generations, for instance, may be unfamiliar with the new styles of music enjoyed by young people.

Genre-based measures also assume that participants share a Little Rock craigslist sex swing understanding of the genres. This is an obstacle for research comparing preferences from people in different socioeconomic groups or cultures because certain musical styles may have different social connotations in different regions or countries.

Finally, there is evidence that some music genres are associated with clearly defined social stereotypes Rentfrow, et al. These methodological limitations have thwarted theoretical progress in the social and personality psychology of music.

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Indeed, much of the research has identified groups of music genres that covary, but we do not know why those genres covary. Why do people who like jazz also like classical music? Why are preferences for rock, heavy metal, and punk music highly related to each other? Is there something about the loudness, structure, or intensity of the music? Do those styles of music share similar social and cultural associations? Are there particular sounds or instruments that guide preferences? Do people prefer music with a particular emotional valence or level of energy?

Are people drawn to music that has desirable social overtones?

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Such questions need to be addressed if we are to develop a complete understanding of the social and psychological factors that shape music preferences. But how should music preferences be conceptualized if we are to address these questions? Music is multifaceted: it is composed of specific auditory properties, communicates emotions, and has strong social connotations. There is evidence from research concerned with various social, psychological, and physiological aspects of music, not with music preferences per se, suggesting that preferences are tied to various musical facets.

For example, there is evidence of individual differences in preferences for vocal as opposed to instrumental music, fast vs.

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Such preferences have been shown to relate to personality traits such as Extraversion, Neuroticism, Psychoticism, and sensation seeking. These studies suggest that we should broaden our conceptualization of music preferences to include the intrinsic properties, or attributes, as well as external associations of music.

Indeed, if there are individual differences in preferences for instrumental music, melancholic music, or music regarded as sophisticated, such information needs to be taken into. How should preferences be assessed so that both external and intrinsic musical properties are captured? There are good reasons to believe that self-reported preferences for music genres reflect, at least partially, preferences for external properties of music. Indeed, research has found that individuals, particularly young people, have strong stereotypes about fans of certain music genres.

Specifically, Rentfrow and colleagues Rentfrow et al.

Individual Differences in Music Preferences

Furthermore, research on the validity of the music stereotypes suggested that fans of certain genres reported possessing many of the stereotyped characteristics. There are a variety of ways in which intrinsic musical properties could be measured. One approach would involve manipulating audio clips of musical pieces to emphasize specific attributes or emotional tones.

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For instance, respondents could report their preferences for clips engineered to be fast, distorted, or loud. McCown et al. Though such procedures certainly yield useful information, a song never possesses only one characteristic, but several. As Hevner pointed out, hearing isolated chords or modified music is not the same as listening to music as it was originally intended, which usually involves an accumulation of musical elements to be expressed and interpreted as a whole. A more ecologically valid way to assess music preferences would be to present audio recordings of real pieces of music.

Indeed, measuring affective reactions to excerpts of real music has a of advantages. ZIP: 72211 72210 72212 72223 72209 72202 72201 72206 72207 72204 72205 72103 72227 72215 72217 72219 72222 72225 72231 72255 72260 72295

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