Musical preferences develop over time according to various experiential and environmental factors. It has been observed that musical preferences vary across cultures, ages, and even gender. Here, introduce a generalized model of musical tastes based on the different listeners’ affective responses to excerpts from a broad range of musical genres. The results of the fourth research suggest that musical preferences for the MUSICS also depend on the listeners’ social and auditory qualities of the music. This study was conducted by Means.
Means first presented her musical preference questionnaire to 8th graders in a high school situated in a rural community in America. Her study comprised of two parts; a qualitative investigation and a quantitative data collection. Her qualitative investigation comprised a qualitative investigation into the musical preferences of musical participants and a numerical study concerning musical preference formation in a sample of students.
The second part of this study used a quantitative method to examine musical preference formation in a sample of high school students residing in a town in the Midwest. The students were recruited through the school’s concerts and events committee. The study focused on two main questions; one “do you agree that listening to certain types of music makes you feel relaxed or stressed out?” and the other was “do you think there is a link between listening to certain types of music and achieving work success?”
In both studies, the answers provided by the participants represented a great deviation from the conventional and received wisdom regarding musical taste formation. Consistent with previous research, the majority (over 80%) of participants indicated that music had a positive impact on their moods. Furthermore, the participants also demonstrated a clear link between musical preference formation and achievement. Students scoring high on musical preference formation were more likely to be highly successful in achieving academic and interpersonal goals. Also, the connection between musical preference formation and success was most pronounced for students who were highly creative (by definition). When asked if they thought there was a link between creativity and achievement, the participants overwhelmingly responded “yes”.
One of the largest areas of confusion surrounding musical preferences and achievement is how the students actually identify their own musical tastes. While a common theme may be identified in both studies, there was a great deal of variance in the actual identification of musical preferences. In the first study, participants were asked to match a specific melody or rhythm with a visual word, such as a dollar sign or a smiley face. In the second study, participants were asked to rate the importance of each melody element on an ordinal scale ranging from “very important” to “not very important”. Surprisingly, participants were not able to consistently match the elements on the scales.
Another issue that arises from these studies is how music may relate to our overall self-esteem. As we age, our musical tastes begin to change. In one study, participants were asked to rate the extent to which each melody element was important to them. Interestingly, even participants who considered themselves to be very open minded when it came to musical tastes indicated a negative association between musical taste and confidence. Overall, these results suggest that although musical tastes may not necessarily change throughout life, they do have an impact on our level of confidence.
As mentioned, musical preferences seem to have a particular impact on performance. In addition to examining how music influences performance, this study also examined how music relates to self-esteem. Specifically, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their relationship with their own musical preferences and their level of confidence. It was found that those who were more confident with their musical preferences were more likely to be successful in achieving career goals in music.
Overall, these studies provide insight into the psychological basis of musical preferences. Specifically, they demonstrate that music has the ability to affect multiple areas of our lives. They also suggest that self-esteem and confidence are strongly influenced by our personal musical preferences. If you would like to take part in this research, please contact Dr. Patrick S. Diehl at the University of Northumbria, UK.
The strong relationship between musical taste formation and musical health has been revealed in several studies. One such study compared two groups of children that were led to a task in which they had to listen to differing types of music. The results showed that children in the control group who listened to happy and calm music were more alert and had higher IQ levels than the group that listened to “barking” music. The researchers attributed this difference to the fact that children in the happy music group had higher levels of “cognition”, which they said was a general term used to describe mental ability.
Another study found that listening to music through headphones helped make individuals more sensitive to the pitch and intensity of sounds. The brain responses to music and its variations were more sensitive when listeners had to actively participate in the listening. A third study showed that musical preferences were largely hereditary, with some individuals being highly in favor of certain musical genres while others being completely repelled by them. A fourth study revealed that listening to background music while working on a computer improved cognitive tasks and logical thinking abilities, as well as increased reaction times and reaction accuracy.
Researchers have also established a direct link between musical preferences and mental health and emotional well being. In a study conducted at the University of Toledo in Ohio, participants were asked about their musical tastes and how they related to their level of stress and anxiety. Participants were also asked about their levels of mental health and emotional stress. Surprisingly, the connection between musical stressfulness and poor mental health was most apparent among children in the lowest socioeconomic group.
The importance of musical preferences was also shown in fitness related tests. In a test given to adults, those who had musical preferences exhibited greater aerobic and cardio respiratory endurance, as well as lower body fat percentage. In a related fitness test given to military personnel, participants who only had classical music had lower fitness scores than those who listened to more contemporary or non-classical music. Finally, in a laboratory test, participants were asked to listen to three popular songs and rate each one on a scale ranging from “very nice” to “not at all nice”. Those who only had classical preference demonstrated a significantly greater preference for the three songs than those who only listened to one.
This study is the first to show that musical preferences may be an independent index of stress and anxiety. However, the specific link between musical preferences and mental health and emotional well-being was unclear. Further studies are needed to determine whether musical preferences have specific links to these aspects or if they are unrelated. For now, the present study offers additional insight into how we process our musical environment and can provide some additional clues to understanding how it can impact our well-being.
One important variable that emerged from the present study is the significant effect that music has on our cognitive processing. Specifically, participants showed an increase in the magnitude of their critical judgment errors when they were exposed to highly demanding musical preferences. Although this effect was not significant, it does indicate that there is some ability to predict and anticipate the types of choices we will make in our given situation. Interestingly, this was only true for those participants who had high musical preferences; those with only a few musical preferences showed no difference in their critical decision making power when exposed to a variety of potential choices. This suggests that although we do not use our musical preferences as a generic control or predictor for all possible future situations, we do implicitly use them to a certain degree as a generalization of what we expect to happen in our own life.
Another area that was explored in this questionnaire was the relationship between musical preferences and physical fitness. Prior research has shown that people with higher degrees of musical preference are also higher in physical fitness. Therefore, it is possible that having a high musical preference may promote physical fitness over time. To explore this hypothesis, the questionnaire provided a questionnaire about participants’ physical fitness history, measured at the start of the questionnaire or at the end of it. In addition, a physical activity questionnaire was also included, which had to be completed by each participant before the final questionnaire. Both the questionnaire about participants’ history of physical fitness and the physical activity questionnaire measured total minutes of actual physical exercise per week and total number of calories burned during the last 30 days.
Finally, the relationship between participants’ musical preferences and their levels of stress was examined using a multiple regression model. Using a multiple regression model, the relationships between the independent variables of interest and the dependent variables are estimated. An important aspect of this procedure is that multiple regression can be used to examine relationships that are not necessarily linear. Because our study did not directly control for the level of stress and/or the presence or absence of other factors, we performed several multiple regression analyses in order to explore different possible relationships. We found that there was a significant link between participants’ musical preferences and their levels of physical and mental stress, indicating that stress can indeed cause people to change their musical taste.