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Responses to Music in the Real World

By Adrian C. North


This thesis concerns aesthetic responses to music, and is divided into four main parts, with each comprising an initial literature review and subsequent empirical studies.\ud Part A describes 5 studies which employed conventional laboratory techniques to investigate how theories of aesthetic response might be extended to explanations of emotional responses to music and liking for musical styles. This part of the thesis also discusses how these theories might be reconciled. In contrast, Parts B-D of the thesis provide several examples of how responses to music in the real world are not made in the 'social vacuum' of conventional laboratory research, but are instead linked inextricably to the context of musical behaviour. Part B reports 7 studies which investigate the relationship between music and the immediate listening situation.\ud These demonstrate that through variables such as 'appropriateness', musical preference may interact with the environment in which it is experienced. Part B also investigates the relative roles of arousal- and cognitive-based factors in this, and suggests that music is selected to as to optimise responses to the listening situation. Part C investigates two sources of extra-musical information, namely stereotyping and the physical attractiveness of music performers. Although some research has been carried out on conformity and prestige effects on musical preference, the two studies in this part of the thesis indicate that other types of information may also be important social features of people's musical behaviour. Finally, Part D reports three studies concerning artistic eminence and acculturational factors. These demonstrate a considerable consensus between several means of measuring artistic eminence; that this consensus breaks down to some extent as a result of cultural factors; that archival data sources can reveal several interesting cultural trends in eminence; and that there are age differences in tolerance for musical styles. These three studies indicate that the broader culture in which people develop and live also influences musical behaviour.\ud More generally, the research reported in this thesis suggests that although context-independent laboratory studies can be informative in their own right, responses to music also seem related to their social psychological, real-world context

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 1996
OAI identifier:

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