Tim Brunson DCH

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The effect of background music on the perception of personality and demographics.



This study seeks to discover stereotypes people may have about different music genres and if these stereotypes are projected onto an individual. Also, the study investigates if music therapy students are more or less biased than non-music majors in this regard. Subjects (N=388) were comprised of student members of the American Music Therapy Association (N=182) and students from a college in the southeastern United States who were not music majors (N=206). Subjects were asked to listen to a recording and complete a short survey. Subjects assigned to the control condition heard only a person reading a script. Subjects assigned to one of the four experimental conditions heard the same recording mixed with background music and ambient crowd noise, intended to simulate a live performance. Subjects were asked to rate the person in the recording on personality descriptors and predict demographic information in the survey. Many of the survey responses were significantly affected by the genre of music. For example, it was shown that when in the presence of rap or country music, all subjects rated the personality of the person in the recording significantly more negative than when in the presence of classical, jazz, or no music. There were no significant differences between the groups for any variable or condition when comparing survey responses between college students and AMTA student members.

J Music Ther. 2011 Summer;48(2):208-25. Lastinger DL 5th. The Florida State University, FL, USA.

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