From the Function of Music to Music Preference

3 March 2018

To date, not much is known about how the functions of music relate to music preference. This article examines the basic hypothesis that the strength of preference for a given kind of music depends on the degree to which that kind of music serves the needs of the listener; that is, how well the respective functions of music are fulfilled. Study 1, a pilot study, identified the best- known musical styles of the participants, yielding 25 styles that were known by at least 10 percent of them. Study 2 used these 25 styles and found that rock, pop and classical music were liked most.A factor analysis yielded six extinct dimensions of music preference. People showed great variation in the strength of preference for their favorite music.

This is explained by the impact of different functions of music. The potential of music to express people’s identity and values and to bring them together was most closely related to the strength of preference. However, the reasons for liking a particular style are not congruent with the functions that people ascribe to their favorite music in general. A theoretical model of the development of music preferences is suggested. Unrest, musical taste, styles, uses and gratification approach KEYWORDS: Knowing more about music preference is essential for the music culture, for the society, [and] for the personal development of the individual’ (Finns, 1989, p. 43). The investigation of music preference consists of two central questions.

First, why does one person like a certain type of music (e. G. , classical music) while another prefers a totally different type of music? And, second, why do people differ in their degree or strength of music preference, which can vary considerably?Good answers to both questions are necessary for building a sound theoretical model of the origin and development of USIA preferences. However, to date, the second question has received little attention. Let us first look at how preferences for a given type of music can be shaped. In his review of the literature on the topic, Finns (1989) concluded that there are several causal factors that can have an impact on music preference: specific characteristics of the music (tempo, rhythm, pitch, etc. ), familiarity and repeated listening, the listener’s affective experiences while listening to music and social influences.

Other researchers have provided further evidence for the impact of social influences (Adler, 1985; Slaking, Odds, & Watts, 2006) and affective experiences (e. G. , Blood & Equator, sampler 280 psychology of MusiC 37(3) 2001; Gibberellins, 2001; Guilin & Alaska, 2004; Guilin & Caseload, 2001) on music preference. And still others have found additional factors that can influence music preference: the personality of the listener (Reenters & Gosling, 2003, 2006), the listener’s physiological parameters (Mascara & Ballard, 1999) and innate auditory preferences (McDermott & Hauser, 2005; Tether, Challengers, & Hill, 1997; Motto, 1997).And not least, the age of a listener seems to have a strong impact on music preference (Holbrook & Schneider, 1989; Mender 1991). This list factors gives an idea how music preferences can be influenced, but the question remains why people actually listen to music and why they develop a special musical taste. If one looks at the research that has addressed the latter question, the most general answers refer to the functions of music, which means that people use music to reach certain goals and serve their needs (e.

G. Earnest, 1995; Back, 1993; Hexane, 1995; Larson, 1995; North & Harvested, 1999; Caseload, O’Neill, & Vivaldi, 2001; George, Grant, George & Gephardt, 2006). We will first discuss Hess research findings on the functions of music and then argue that the relationship between the functions of music and music preference – especially the degree of preference – still needs further investigation. Then we present the results of two studies. The first serves as a pilot study that provides the means to examine the relationship between functions of music and the strength of preference for different kinds of music in the second study.Finally, we discuss how the results obtained in the present studies might help to build a theoretical framework on the relationship of musical functions and music preference. Functions and benefits of music There is much evidence that the reasons why we prefer one type of music over another, or even like music at all, can be ascribed to the functions of music (Earnest, 1995; gene, 1 986, 1997; Guilin & chukka, 2004 Larson, 1995; Lewis, 1992; Sartorially & Erik, 2007; Schwartz & gout’s, 2003; Caseload et al.

, 2001). Our daily lives are thought to be driven by certain needs that lead us to a state of subjective well-being or hedonism (see, e. . , Rises, 2004), and music is just one thing that brings us a bit closer to this end every day. We use music to serve several functions that are important to us. Most of the functions are related to developmental issues, especially for adolescents. Young people use music to explore, express and tighten their identities (Earnest, 1995; Larson, 1995; North & Harvested, 1 999) and to communicate their personal values, ambitions, beliefs, and perceptions of the world and themselves (North & Harvested, 1999; Steele & Brown, 1 995; White, 1985).

Through music people can ‘try on’ different personalities or identities, including desirable ones as well as ones they fear (Larson, 1995; Markus & Nurses, 1986). In this context, music is also used to establish a symbolic border against other groups (or against parents in early adolescence) to define a (youth) culture of its own (Back, 1 993; Rill, 2006). Music can enhance interactions with peers or with a partner, by providing either a medium for communication and common activities (e. G. , Denies, 1 992; Lull, 1992) or information about the other through his or her favorite music (Reenters & Gosling, 2006).Reenters and Gosling (2003, 2006) found that listening to music is the top leisure-time activity for most people and they suggested that music is highly Downloaded from pomp. Seepage.

Com at Universities Ethnology Mar (CCITT) on March 23, 201 1 Schafer and Sideliner: From the functions of music to music preference 281 diagnostic for exploring the personality of others. Further, music is used to tune out and to cope with daily hassles and problems (Earnest, 1 995; Larson, 1995; Schwartz & Pouts, 2003; Taxman & Hortatory, 2002).In a broader sense, we use music to manage and regulate our moods and emotions, to ‘chill’ and relax, and to reminisce (George et al. , 2006; Guilin & Alaska, 2001; Sartorially & Erik, 2007; Ashrams & Worth, 2006; Waterman, 1 996; Gilligan, 1988). People also use music to manage their arousal level or to satisfy their negation seeking (Earnest, 1992; Gnawing & Mirror, 1999; Mascara & Ballard, 1999), and music leads to physical activity through dancing. Functions of music and music preference Most of the studies that have investigated functions of music have used preferred or favorite music without considering the degree of preference.However, this procedure makes it difficult to study the impact of functions of music on music preference: Why there is a continuum between just liking music and adoring music and whether and how this degree of preference is related to the functions of music has, to the best of our knowledge, not yet been addressed.

In most of the research reported above, the assumption was made that the functions of music are directly related to preference, meaning that the more intensely music can be used to serve certain functions, the more intense the preference.However, this is not compelling, because music can be used in several ways, but not all of them appropriate for every listener. That is, someone might be aware of various functions his or her favorite music can serve, but this need not be the main reason for liking this music best. Thus, we have to look for the missing link between the functions of music and the degree Of music preference. A theoretical basis for investigating this relationship is provided by Been (1997, p. 49), who suggested that this relationship is linear – that ‘the intensity of music preferences seems to be a mirror of the intensity of Immensurable’, defined as ‘the sum of psychic processes which accompany the experience of music in situations when music is in the focus of interest’ (Been, 1997, p. 143).

Following Been (1 997), we hypothesized that the strength of music preference should cavalry with the intensity of music use: the better the needs of a listener are served by a given music, the higher the degree of preference for that music should be.Rationale of present studies Our first step was to search for commonly known musical styles. Respondents were asked to list all musical styles known to them. This was done to obtain an overview of known styles to use instead of a ready-made list of styles collected by experts or a researcher, as has often been done. The best-known styles were then identified (Study 1). The next step (Study 2) was to determine if these styles could be grouped into a few dimensions of music preference to possibly confirm the results of previous research and to have a starting point for investigating the functions of music.Dimensions (factors) of musical styles (e.

G. , rock, pop, rap, electro) refer to specific styles of music that are similarly rated or liked (e. G. , Bog, Racketeer, Volleyball, Well, & Sickens, 2003; Burger, Gladiola, & Lester, 2002; Christenson & Peterson, Downloaded from pomp. Seepage. Com at Universities Ethnology Mar (Tim) on March 23, 282 Psychology of Music 37(3) 1988; Taxman & Hortatory, 2002). In research, they are primarily used to reduce the number of different styles, especially to learn something about the perception of music and its impact on human behavior, emotion and cognition.

For example, the genre rap might contain musical styles such as hip hop, black music, R ‘n’ B, and rap. In a series of excellent studies, Reenters and Gosling (2003) showed that preferences can be grouped into only four dimensions that reflect the central characteristics of the music described: (1 ) reflective and complex (e. G. , classical); (2) intense and rebellious (e. G. , rock); (3) upbeat and conventional (e. G.

, pop); and (4) energetic and rhythmic (e. G. , rap).Then we searched for the functions people ascribe to their favorite music and the relationship between these functions and their degree of preference, o learn something about what it is that makes them passionate listeners. The functions with the greatest influence on preference were identified via stepwise regression analysis. The functions used in Study 2 were derived from previous research on functions of music and were intended to cover all categories of functions music can have (except therapeutic).Preference for favorite music was investigated using questions concerning judgment as well as behavioral dimensions of preference in order to observe it in a more valid way, rather than a single scale of liking from ‘not at all’ to ‘very much’.

Study 1: how well known are different musical styles? Study 1 was conducted as a pilot study that investigated how well known different musical styles are, to provide the musical styles to be used in Study 2. METHOD In a questionnaire survey, 170 participants (100 female, 70 male) were asked to list, on paper, all the musical styles they knew.Participants were 15 to 78 years old (M 26. 4; SD 12. 2). Most (67. 1 were students at Chemist University of Technology in Germany (mainly in the social sciences, I.

E. , psychology, sociology, pedagogy); 24. 7 percent were employed in various professions, and 8. Percent were sleepyhead or unemployed. Although we intended to have a balanced ratio of males and females, we received more answers from females, which is probably because social science students in Germany are predominantly female. Participants received no compensation for their participation.In addition to listing the musical styles they knew, participants estimated the mean time they spent listening to music every day and rated their musicality (scale from 1, very unmusical, to 10, very musical) as well as the importance of music in their life (scale from 1, not at all important, to 10, very important).

R USE L T SAND IS CUE S S I ON There were 74 different musical styles, each known to at least one participant. To narrow the field for further investigation, styles were selected that were known by at least 10 percent of all respondents, which resulted in 25 styles (see Table 1).Respondents’ mean rating for self-estimated musicality was 6. 1 (SD 2. 4), and the mean rating for importance of music in their life was 8. 2 (SD 1. 8).

Thus, participants rated their own musicality as moderate, yet music seems to play a very important role in their life. This is emphasized by the reported time they spent listening to Downloaded from pomp. Seepage. Com at Universities Ethnology Mar (Tim) on March 23, 2011 Schafer and Sideliner: From the functions of music to music preference 283 music per day, which was about three hours (M 2. 9; SD 1 . ). The duration of music listening was slightly negatively correlated with age (r .

15; with a sample size Of n 170, and a one-tailed Of 5 percent, correlations are significant if r . 13) but more – and positively – with musicality (r . 24) and importance of music (r . 29). As suggested by previous findings (Mended, 1 991), importance of music decreased with age (r . 24). This is further supported by a negative relation between age and the number of styles mentioned (r .

30). Musicality was moderately correlated with importance of music (r . 39).To reveal possible effects of gender, we used t-tests to compare the mean values for musicality, importance of music and amount of time of music listening per day of males and females. Despite the relatively high power because of the large samples, none of the tests were significant. The same holds for comparisons of the Fisher z-transformed correlations (e. G.

, Rosenthal & Orison, 1991, p. 495) calculated separately for males and females. Thus, gender effects were negligible in our study. The list of best-known musical styles was used as a starting point for Study 2. It provides a valid representation of styles familiar to the respondents.In Study 2, a larger sample was investigated; this is why Study 1 covered no further questions. TABLE 1 How well known are different musical styles? Musical style Pop Classical Rock Jazz Folk Hip hop Techno Metal Blues Punk Beat-music Reggae R ‘n’ B Soul House Rock ‘n’ roll Country Rap Swing Gospel Ask Alternative Dance Gothic Trance Note: N 170.

Frequency of mention 134 128 125 114 102 100 100 74 67 67 64 58 56 54 46 4039 38 30 29 29 24 24 22 19 recent of participants 78. 8 75. 3 73. 5 67. 1 60. 0 58. 8 58.

8 43. 5 39. 4 394 37. 6 34. 1 32. 9 27. 1 23.

5 22. 9 22. 4 17. 6 17. 1 17. 1 14. 1 14.

1 12. 9 11. 284 Study 2: the functions of music and music preference The purposes of Study 2 were to investigate (1 ) the distribution of preference for the musical styles from Study 1 to analyses the specific degree to which people like their favorite music; (2) the structure of these preferences, to find main dimensions by factor analysis, first to check whether dimensions (factors) from recent research can be confirmed, and second to use these mentions as musical genres to analyses further results in detail for each genre; (3) which functions people’s favorite music can have; and (4) how these functions are related to the specific degree of people’s music preferences. METHOD Participants In this study, 507 participants from several German cities responded to an online survey via the internet. They were 11 to 50 years old (M 24. 8; SD 5. 1); 71 percent were female, 29 percent male.

Most (79. 5%) were students of various disciplines (mainly in the social sciences, I. E. Psychology, sociology, pedagogy), 15. 6 percent were employed in various professions, and . 9 percent were self-employed or unemployed. Thus, the respondents in this sample were somewhat younger than those in Study 1 and there were more students.

Again, participants received no compensation for taking part in the study. As in Study 1 respondents had to provide information about their musicality and the importance of music. The results were consistent with Study 1 for self-estimated musicality (M 5. 7; SD 2. 4), the importance of music in their life (M 7. 7; SD 1. 5), and the mean duration of listening to music per day (M 3.

1 hours; SD 2. 5).Again, the duration of music listening was slightly actively correlated with age (r . 14) but more ? and positively ? with the importance of music (r . 33). However, it was not correlated with musicality (r . 07).

Importance of music did not decrease with age (r . 08), which is a clear difference from Study 1 and probably because of the younger sample in Study 2. Musicality was moderately correlated with importance of music (r . 41). As in Study 1 – to reveal possible gender effects – we ran t-tests for musicality, importance of music and amount of time of music listening per day, and we compared all correlation coefficients between males and females. None of these differences were significant.Thus, again, gender effects were negligible.

Material and procedure The questionnaire was provided via the internet and completed online. All materials were originally in German. The link to the website was distributed via email to mailing lists Of German universities, and all respondents were encouraged to forward this link to their friends and relatives. First, participants were asked to give preference ratings for each of the 25 musical styles from Study 1. This was done on ID-point Liker scales with the poles (0-9) labeled ‘l don’t like it at all’ and ‘l like it very much. Then the respondents were asked to name their favorite music (not restricted to the 25 given styles).To provide information about music preference, including attitudes as well as behavioral dimensions, they were asked to rate how much they agreed with the following statements: (1) ‘l like this music’, (2) ‘I couldn’t live without this music’, (3) ‘l regularly visit clubs or concerts to listen to this muse, (4) ‘l just need this music’, (5) ‘I’m a passionate Downloaded from pomp.

Seepage. Com at Universities Ethnology Mar (Tim) on 285 listener of this music’, (6) ‘l usually spend a lot of money to purchase this music’. This was done on 1 a-point Liker scales with the poles labeled ‘do not agree at all’ and ‘completely agree’. Following this, respondents were asked to think of their favorite music and rate how much they agreed with several statements about it (the functions of music as found in the literature, see Table 2).Again, 1 a-point Liker scales were used with the poles labeled ‘not agree at all’ and ‘completely agree. ‘ Participants then had the opportunity to name additional functions of their favorite music that were not on the list. Rest Its and discussion The structure of music preferences The 25 best-known musical styles were dated for preference.

Despite the limitations (the somewhat younger sample and the missing correlation between the importance of music and age in Study 2), the overall correspondence between the two samples seemed to be high enough to use the 25 best-known musical styles from Study 1 in Study 2. Figure 1 shows the rank-ordered mean preference ratings.The most favored styles were rock and alternative, followed by classical, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, punk, reggae, blues and ask. Styles that were judged rather negatively were beat music, folk and the various kinds of electronic music. This reflects and extends previous findings about the popularity of musical styles, namely, that rock, classical and pop music are very popular styles (e. G. , Been, 1986; Mended, 1991) but that folk music does not play as important a role for Germans as it does, for example, for Turkish people (Taxman & Hortatory, 2002).

Previous research has repeatedly revealed a structure of music preferences, meaning that certain musical styles are perceived or rated similarly.

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