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Responses to music in aerobic exercise and yogic relaxation classes.

As a result of a series of studies in the 1960s and 1970s, Berlyne (1971, 1974) proposed that there is an inverted-U relationship between liking for artistic stimuli (such as music) and their 'collative' properties [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]. These 'collative' properties were described as such because Berlyne proposed that, when exposed to a musical stimulus, the listener collates several intrinsic informational aspects such as its familiarity, redundancy or complexity. Berlyne claimed that we prefer those artistic stimuli which represent moderate levels of the collative variables, whereas stimuli representing extreme levels of these variables are comparatively disliked.

Several studies have shown that the collative variables are associated with aesthetic responses to music (see review by Hargreaves, 1986). For example, Vitz (1966) found an inverted-U relationship between the information content of tone sequences and participants' ratings of their pleasantness. McMullen (1974) found that participants preferred melodies of intermediate redundancy and an intermediate number of pitches. Similarly, Steck & Machotka (1975) found an inverted-U relationship between ratings of liking and complexity assigned to several musical stimuli. North & Hargreaves (in press) employed a methodological departure from these other studies by playing participants 60 short excerpts of commercially released pop music. Independent groups of participants rated these excerpts for liking or complexity, and an inverted-U relationship was again shown between the two groups' ratings.

Taken as a whole, these studies confirm Berlyne's prediction that there is an inverted-U relationship between liking for music and variables such as complexity. However, a frequent criticism of much of the research on this relationship concerns a general lack of ecological validity (see Hargreaves, 1986; Konecni, 1982). At the risk of overgeneralizing, the majority of studies have employed one or more elements of a typical methodology in which specially prepared musical stimuli are presented, under laboratory conditions, to university undergraduates, school pupils or musicians. Although Berlyne strongly advocated this 'new experimental aesthetics', emphasizing the use of precise experimental methods, subsequent research has tended to neglect his second argument that equal emphasis should be placed on a more naturalistic approach. Berlyne (1974) notes that although it is more difficult to achieve experimental control within this latter approach, research to establish the ecological validity of his theory is 'ultimately unavoidable' (p. 20). 'Both approaches are necessary to experimental aesthetics' (Berlyne, 1974, p. 18).

Konecni (1982) notes that the majority of research has 'treated aesthetic preference and choice as if they, and the process of appreciation itself, normally occur within a social, emotional, and cognitive vacuum, as if they were independent of the contexts in which people enjoy aesthetic stimuli in daily life' (p. 498). He suggests that 'What seems needed is a broader perspective on music appreciation, one that ... takes into account the reality of music appreciation in our time' (p. 499). Hargreaves (1986) also notes that those studies which have addressed social and cultural influences on musical behaviour are scattered and diverse and 'tend not to derive from any coherent theoretical framework' (p. 179).

The typical methodology described above may be questioned on three grounds, despite its considerable value as a means of investigating extremely complex phenomena. Firstly, people do not typically listen to artificial tonal or rhythmic sequences; rather they listen to what they would call real music. This differs markedly from experimentally produced stimuli in terms of its general style and duration: experimentally produced stimuli are not necessarily analogous to 'real' music. Secondly, people are not generally exposed to music under laboratory conditions. In the late 20th century, the occasions on which we sit down to specifically listen to music at home are greatly outnumbered by the occasions in which we are exposed to music as we perform everyday tasks such as driving, shopping or watching television. Research has generally failed to investigate our responses to music under these conditions. Finally, people from a wide variety of backgrounds enjoy music, and the direct investigation of the general public's responses has been comparatively neglected. There is a great need for research that recognizes these issues whilst maintaining experimental rigour. Furthermore, if Berlyne's theory could be confirmed in a naturalistic setting, this should have implications for both music therapy and commerce as a means of predicting clients' and consumers' responses.

Despite the generally acknowledged need for ecologically valid empirical studies based on coherent theory, only a very small number have actually been conducted. Konecni (1982) reviewed the research conducted by himself and co-workers on the relationship between social stimulation and musical preference. Their consistent finding was that quasi-naturalistic manipulations of participants' level of arousal had a significant effect on their preference for music of varying complexity: for example, participants who were aroused as a consequence of being insulted by a confederate of the experimenter tended to prefer simpler music.

Outside mainstream psychology, a growing body of evidence in the marketing literature has also examined the variables studied by Berlyne in naturalistic and quasi-naturalistic contexts. Milliman (1982, 1986) found that cash sales and the pace of in-store traffic flow varied with the tempo of supermarket and restaurant music. Similarly, Smith & Curnow (1966) found that in-store traffic flow was influenced by musical volume. Two studies have indicated clear relationships between magazine advertisement complexity and looking time (Morrison & Dainoff, 1972), and advertising response (Zinkhan & Martin, 1983). Similarly, Wintle (1979) concluded that three factors compatible with Berlyne's theory (activity, pleasantness and potency) described participants' responses to television advertisements featuring music. It should be noted, however, that these studies have tended to focus on marketing rather than aesthetic variables.

In an attempt to overcome this, North, Hargreaves & Binns (1994) found that liking for the music in television advertisements was mediated by its complexity as well as by its perceived appropriateness for a given advertisement. New age and military marching band music were paired with an advertisement for a sophisticated product. High complexity new age music was strongly disliked, as predicted by Berlyne's theory: however, moderate complexity military marching music that was inappropriate for the advertisement was also strongly disliked, and this is more difficult to explain in terms of Berlyne's theory in that moderate complexity music should be liked. Furthermore, a highly significant positive correlation was found between liking for the music and its perceived appropriateness.

Although Berlyne and others have discussed the influence of incongruity on aesthetic responses and exploratory behaviour (e.g. Raju & Venkatesan, 1980), the extent to which this relates to 'appropriateness' is unclear. Whitfield (1983), however, directly discusses evidence on 'appropriateness' in the context of his 'preference for prototypes' model. He cites several studies of Berlyne's theory which have employed real-world aesthetic objects such as paintings and furniture, and notes that the predictive power of Berlyne's theory was markedly reduced in this research (e.g. Berlyne, 1975; Whitfield & Slatter, 1979).

Whitfield (1983) drew on research in cognitive psychology in an attempt to explain this apparent reduction in the predictive power of Berlyne's theory. Studies of object classification have indicated that we classify stimuli by successfully matching them with an abstract schema, or 'prototype', representing the appropriate category (Posner & Keele, 1968; Reed, 1972). In other words, our everyday experiences are classified more easily if they correspond with a prototype for that kind of experience. In support of this view, Whitfield (1983) found that preference for items of furniture was related positively to the extent to which the items were prototypical and appropriate exemplars of the category 'furniture'. For example, Georgian chair designs were preferred to art nouveau chair designs, and were also considered to be generally more typically and appropriate examples of chairs. Similar findings are reported by Whitfield & Slatter (1979), and form the basis of Whitfield's (1983) preference for prototypes model. On the basis of this model we should expect to find that liking for music increases with the extent to which it is a typical and appropriate exemplar of the music normally played in a given situation.

Two conclusions may be drawn from this brief review of the literature. The first is that research is required to investigate the validity of Berlyne's theory in real-world music listening situations. The second is that there is also a need for research on the relationship between liking for music and its perceived appropriateness for the listening situation. The present study aims to address these issues, and uses an approach which minimizes the degree of intrusion into a naturalistic music listening situation; that is, a situation in everyday life in which people would normally hear music. To achieve this, the same five three-minute excerpts of music, representing a range of complexity levels, were played to participants during their regular aerobic exercise or yogic relaxation classes: music was always played in the course of these classes as the tutor gave her instructions. It is likely to be invalid to compare the liking ratings assigned by yoga and aerobics groups to specific pieces, since these liking ratings will be mediated by corresponding differences in the complexity and appropriateness ratings assigned between the groups. Rather, two different music listening situations were employed to provide separate parallel tests of the experimental hypotheses under conditions which differ considerably in terms of situational arousal.

At the end of the classes, the five excerpts were rated for 'liking', 'complexity' and 'appropriateness'. Three hypotheses may be made regarding the relationships between these ratings. Firstly, an inverted-U relationship should exist between the 'liking' and 'complexity' ratings assigned to the excerpts within both the yoga and aerobics groups. Secondly, on the basis of the preference for prototypes model outlined above, a positive monotonic relationship should be found within both groups between ratings of 'liking' and 'appropriateness'. Third, given the prediction of a positive relationship between liking and appropriateness, an inverted-U relationship should exist within both groups between ratings of appropriateness and complexity. If ratings of appropriateness are similar to ratings of liking, then moderate levels of complexity should also be perceived as being most appropriate as well as being most liked.


Pilot study and experimental stimuli

An initial pilot study (North & Hargreaves, in press) was carried out in order to select five musical excerpts which satisfied the following considerations: that they could be used in both yoga and aerobics classes; that they should all represent a homogeneous musical style, thus minimizing the possibility of participants' biases influencing responses; that they should be unknown to participants; that they should possess face validity to participants as exemplars of 'real' music; and that they should represent a wide range of complexity. To fulfil these criteria, excerpts of commercially released new age/ambient house music were employed. Excerpts were selected from the recordings of artists identified with this style by the Music Master Catalogue (1993).

In the pilot study, 60 30-second excerpts were presented to an undergraduate sample. Independent groups of 25 participants rated the excerpts on 11-point scales for 'complexity' or 'liking'. Any possible effects of familiarity with the excerpts were dealt with by asking participants to circle the ratings assigned to pieces they had heard previously, and excluding these ratings from analysis. A significant inverted-U relationship was found between ratings of liking (L) and complexity (C) (p [less than] .001; L = 1.69 + 1.59C - 0.19[C.sup.2]), indicating that laboratory-based responses to this musical style are consistent with Berlyne's theory.

Five excerpts were selected from these 60 for use in the present study. These five excerpts represented approximately very low, low, moderate, high and very high complexity levels. Three-minute representative excerpts were recorded in two quasi-random orders onto separate audiotapes. Two further excerpts were selected from the pilot study, from which three-minute representative excerpts were again taken: one of these excerpts was recorded immediately before the five experimental excerpts, and the second of the two excerpts was recorded immediately after the five experimental excerpts. Consequently, the experimental excerpts were presented within a consistent musical context. (In practice, all the music in the aerobics classes was held constant and presented in the same order across classes: in the yoga classes, the experimental tape comprised the only music used in the class.) Finally, 30 s excerpts of the five experimental excerpts were taken from the pilot study and recorded at the end of the two experimental tapes. These 30 s excerpts served as the 'reminder excerpts' described below. Their ordering was matched to that of the three-minute excerpts. Details of these excerpts appear in the Appendix.


One hundred participants took part, with 50 in each of the 'aerobics' and 'yoga' groups. Since the primary concern was to recruit people who normally participated in these classes, it was impossible to randomly assign participants to aerobics or yoga groups. However, the two groups matched closely on age, sex distribution, socio-economic background, musical training, preferred musical style, and the number of hours they spent listening to music.

The aerobics group contained 50 females with a mean age of 31.9 years (SD = 9.66, range = 15-58 years). The yoga group contained 43 females and seven males with a mean age of 29.7 years (SD = 11.98, range = 18-59 years). Secondly, all classes drew participants from local areas, and were conducted in the suburbs of a city in the Midlands region of the UK. Thirdly, on the basis of four independent judges' assessments of participants' responses to a self-report measure of musical training and experience, participants were assigned to a 'low', 'intermediate' or 'high' training group. Approximately half the number from 'low', ' intermediate' and ' high' training groups appeared in each experimental group, i.e. 31, 13 and six respectively in the aerobics group, and 27, 16 and seven respectively in the yoga group. Fourthly, in a measure of preferred general musical style, participants were asked to state which of three broad styles they listened to most often. Similar numbers from each group selected each of classical, jazz and pop/easy listening, i.e. 9, one and 40 respectively in the yoga group, and seven, four and 39 respectively in the aerobics group. Finally, the two groups reported spending a similar number of hours per week deliberately listening to music, with a mean of 7.62 hours (SD = 6.73, range = 0-30 hours) reported by the aerobics group, and a mean of 6.84 hours (SD = 5.01, range = 0-20 hours) reported by the yoga group.


Half of the participants in each group rated the five experimental excerpts on an 11-point scale of 'liking'. The remaining participants rated the five experimental excerpts on an 11-point scale of 'appropriateness' and an 11-point scale of 'complexity'. This design feature was based on Sluckin, Colman & Hargreaves' (1980) discussion of within- and between-subjects designs in experimental aesthetics, and since 'liking' may be seen as the primary dependent variable in the present study. On the rating scales, 0 = 'disliked very much/very inappropriate/very low complexity', 10 = 'liked very much/very appropriate/very high complexity', and 5 = 'midway between the two'. 'Complexity' was defined to participants as the extent to which it was difficult to predict what would happen next in the excerpt, how elaborate the excerpt was, and how surprising the variations within the excerpt were (see Berlyne, 1971). 'Appropriateness' was defined to participants as the extent to which each excerpt was typical of the music usually played in the classes. Any possible effects of familiarity with the excerpts were dealt with by asking all participants to circle the ratings assigned to pieces they had heard previously, and excluding these ratings (six in all) from the analyses. The sample was collected over several classes, with participants in each individual class rating liking or appropriateness/complexity. Twelve or 13 participants in each group x rating scale combination were presented with each of the two excerpt running orders. All members of the classes involved agreed to participate. The responses of four participants who rated 'liking' in the aerobics group were discarded, so that the mean ratings on which statistical analyses were carried out were based on an equal number of responses. Two participants arriving late at the classes were not counted as part of the sample of 100, and their ratings were also excluded from the analyses.

In the aerobics group, the same instructor conducted all the classes, using exactly the same routine throughout each. The experimental excerpts were played during the final 20 minutes of the class. During this period, a sequence of floor-work exercises was conducted (e.g. sit-ups), producing a minimum of background noise. Four sessions were required to complete the data collection. In the yoga group, the same instructor conducted all the classes, again using exactly the same routine throughout each. The experimental excerpts were again played during the final 20 minutes of the class. The aim of this part of the class was to induce a state of deep relaxation. During this period, the instructor employed her usual method of playing a tape of her voice. Four sessions were required to complete the data collection. Thus the format of individual sessions was held constant within groups, and the method of stimulus presentation was held constant between groups.


At the beginning of each class, participants were informed that research was being carried out to investigate the pieces of music played over the final 20 minutes of the class. In the relevant sessions, participants were told that they would be rating individual excerpts for liking or complexity and appropriateness, and participants were asked to consider each piece of music in these terms once the class tutor instructed them to do so. The rating scales were described, and 'complexity' and 'appropriateness' were then defined in the relevant classes (see definitions above). The class then proceeded as usual. Immediately before the experimental excerpts were played, the class instructor asked participants to consider each of the following excerpts in terms of 'liking' or 'appropriateness/complexity'. The instructor ended the class as the experimental tape finished, and response sheets were quickly distributed. Participants followed instructions from the top of their response sheet, whilst the experimenter read them aloud. These contained a reminder of the definitions and the rating scales. The instructions then emphasized that ratings should express participants' impressions of each piece, 'as it was playing during the class'. Having determined that these instructions had been understood, the experimenter played the 'reminder excerpts', and participants rated each experimental excerpt in turn.


To check for possible order effects in the data, separate product moment correlation coefficients were computed between each of the two excerpt running orders for each rating scale x group combination, using the mean ratings assigned to each of the five excerpts. The coefficients ranged between .96 and .99, with significance levels ranging between p [less than] .01 and p [less than] .001 (N = 5, two-tailed). This means we can rule out the possibility of order effects influencing the results.

The mean rating assigned to each excerpt was then calculated for each group x variable combination (see Table 1). These mean ratings suggest that an inverted-U relationship holds between the liking and complexity ratings assigned within both groups. This was tested by curvilinear regression analysis which calculated the significance with which linear and quadratic models fitted the data. Only the quadratic model was fitted significantly to the yoga group data (F(2) = 109.52, p [less than] .01), confirming that an inverted-U relationship held between their liking and complexity ratings. The resulting value of [R.sup.2] indicates that this model accounted for 99.1 per cent of the variance in ratings of these variables. In the aerobics group data, the fit of the quadratic model only approached statistical significance (F(2) = 5.12, p = .16), whilst the fit of the linear model was significant (F(3)= 14.49, p [less than] .05). However, values of [R.sup.2] indicate that the quadratic model explained more of the variance in ratings of these variables than the linear model (83.7 and 82.8 per cent respectively). Figure 2a illustrates the quadratic regression curves between liking and complexity ratings assigned by the two groups: the shape of the curve for the aerobics group further illustrates that any inverted-U relationship between their liking and complexity ratings was very weak.
Table 1. Mean ratings of liking, complexity and appropriateness
assigned by yoga and aerobics participants to five musical excerpts

Group/Variable                  1        2       3       4       5

Yoga/Liking                    5.80     7.08    7.44    2.52    1.68
Yoga/Complexity                2.72     4.04    4.56    7.88    8.40
Yoga/Appropriateness           6.96     7.32    7.26    3.12    1.92
Aerobics/Liking                5.04     5.75    7.20    1.39    1.04
Aerobics/Complexity            2.76     3.61    3.70    7.64    9.24
Aerobics / Appropriateness     4.52     5.30    5.83    1.64    0.72

Product moment correlation coefficients were calculated for both groups between the mean liking and mean appropriateness ratings assigned to the five experimental excerpts. The aerobics group's data produced a coefficient of .99 (N = 5, p = .001, two-tailed), whilst the yoga groups' data produced a coefficient of .98 (N = 5, p [less than] .01, two-tailed). These values indicate that liking and appropriateness ratings were positively associated within both groups. Values of [r.sup.2] obtained from these coefficients indicated that the linear relationship between liking and appropriateness ratings explains 98.0 per cent of the variance in these variables within the aerobics group, and 96.0 per cent of the variance in these variables within the yoga group. Figure 2b illustrates the linear regression of appropriateness ratings on likings ratings within the two groups.

The mean ratings presented in Table 1 suggest that an inverted-U relationship holds between the appropriateness and complexity ratings assigned within both groups. This was tested by curvilinear regression analyses which calculated the significance of fit to the data of both linear and quadratic models. Although the complexity and appropriateness ratings assigned by the yoga group were significantly fitted to a linear model ([R.sup.2] = .89, F(3) = 25.12, p [less than] .05), the significance of fit, and the associated value of [R.sup.2] were greater for the quadratic model ([R.sup.2] = .99, F(2) = 534.19, p [less than] .001), indicating that the data are best described as an inverted-U curve. The complexity and appropriateness ratings assigned by the aerobics group were significantly fitted to a linear model (F(3) = 24.90, p [less than] .05). However, the fit of the quadratic model also approached significance (F(2) = 10.60, p = .08). Moreover, the associated values of [R.sup.2] indicated that the quadratic model was able to predict more of the variance in these data than the linear model ([R.sup.2] = .92 and .89 respectively). Consequently, the ratings assigned by the aerobics group are also likely to be best described as following an inverted-U relationship. Figure 2c illustrates the quadratic regression curves between appropriateness and complexity ratings assigned within the two groups.

Finally, independent t tests were calculated to test for differences between the groups on each of the three rating scales. The yoga group assigned higher liking and appropriateness ratings than the aerobics group (t (244)= -2.03, p [less than] .05, and t (240)= -4.13, p [less than] .001 respectively). The complexity ratings assigned by the two groups did not differ significantly (t (240) = -0.22, p = .82).


The results broadly support the prediction of Berlyne's theory that there should be an inverted-U relationship between ratings of liking and complexity. The quadratic model was significantly fitted to the yoga group's liking and complexity ratings. Moreover, the evidence above indicates that the liking and complexity ratings assigned by the aerobics group, although not significantly fitted to a quadratic model, are also best described as conforming to the inverted-U hypothesis. Two arguments support this claim. Firstly, the values of [R.sup.2] indicate that the quadratic model did at least explain slightly more of the variance in ratings than the linear model. Secondly, the mean ratings for the aerobics group illustrated in Fig. 2a give the strong visual impression of an inverted-U: with increasing complexity, liking initially increases, but then decreases substantially. Consequently, the relationship between liking and complexity ratings assigned by the aerobics group is also likely to be weakly consistent with Berlyne's theory. Complexity does appear to be associated with liking for 'real' music experienced by members of the general public under naturalistic music listening conditions. These relationships were found in two settings which differed greatly in situational arousal.

However, the strength of the relationship between liking and complexity is of considerable interest. There was only weak evidence that this relationship took the form of an inverted-U curve in the aerobics group: although a quadratic function appears to be the best description of the results, the level of statistical significance and the regression curve illustrated in Fig. 2a mean that the proof of an inverted-U relationship is far from convincing. It is possible that the fit of the data to an inverted-U model was reduced by the similarity in the complexity ratings assigned by the aerobics group to excerpts 2 and 3 (see Table 1), and there is no obvious explanation for the similarity of these ratings. However, this apparent limitation of Berlyne's theory when explaining musical preference in a naturalistic setting is consistent with Whitfield's arguments (see above). It seems that some other aspect of the experimental situation influenced participants' ratings.

In both groups, the relationship between appropriateness and complexity also appeared to be best described as an inverted-U. This relationship was statistically significant in the yoga group, and narrowly failed to attain statistical significance in the aerobics group (p = .08). Again the data from the aerobics group seems to be best described as following an inverted-U relationship, given the visual impression provided by the mean ratings [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2C OMITTED], and the comparative fit of the quadratic and linear models to this data. Whilst acknowledging the statistical non-significance of the relationship in the aerobics group's data, it does appear that moderate levels of complexity were perceived as most appropriate.

The high positive correlations between ratings of liking and appropriateness within both groups correspond with the findings of North et al. (1994) in support of the preference for prototypes model. Interestingly, whilst North et al. held the listening context constant and manipulated the music played to different groups, the present study manipulated the listening context and held the musical stimuli constant between groups. These two studies indicate a clear positive relationship between liking for music and its perceived appropriateness for the listening context, since they both found very high correlations between the two variables as a result of different methodologies. Moreover, whilst the relationship between liking and complexity in the aerobics group failed to correspond significantly with Berlyne's theory, the relationship between liking and appropriateness in this group was clearly as predicted.

The values of [R.sup.2] reported above are relevant to this issue: they indicate that the linear relationship between liking and appropriateness predicted a similar amount of the variance in these ratings as the quadratic model predicted in the relationship between ratings of liking and complexity: in other words, the predicted relationship between liking and appropriateness was as strong as the predicted relationship between liking and complexity. This is particularly interesting given Whitfield's (1983) argument that the preference for prototypes model may be more effective than Berlyne's theory in predicting liking for everyday aesthetic stimuli (see also Whitfield & Slatter, 1979).

It is unfortunate that linear regression and ANCOVA analyses could not be carried out to distinguish the effects of complexity and appropriateness on liking. However, since there was a curvilinear relationship between liking and complexity, but a linear relationship between liking and appropriateness, both forms of analysis were impossible: linear regression and ANCOVA techniques assume that the same form of relationship exists between each independent variable and the dependent variable.

However, some limited evidence tentatively suggests that there was a relationship between liking and appropriateness above and beyond the effects of complexity. Independent t tests indicated that the yoga group assigned higher liking and appropriateness ratings to the five excerpts, whereas complexity ratings did not differ between the two groups. This suggests that the higher liking and appropriateness ratings assigned by the yoga group cannot be attributed to any variation between the groups in terms of the perceived complexity of the pieces.

The close link between liking and perceived appropriateness is further illustrated by the relationships between complexity and appropriateness ratings within the two groups [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2C OMITTED]. Perhaps the most salient feature of Fig. 2c is its similarity to Fig. 2a, which relates liking to complexity. In conjunction with the curvilinear regression analyses, Fig. 2a indicates that the moderate levels of complexity were most liked, whilst Fig. 2c indicates that moderate levels of complexity were also rated as being most appropriate.

This raises the issue of the relationship between liking and appropriateness. The present findings indicate that the two variables are extremely similar. However, common sense suggests that this conclusion may be simplistic in two ways. Consider a situation in which a typical Western music listener has travelled to the wedding celebrations of an Indian friend. We might speculate that three of that person's responses to the festive Indian music being played there are extremely probable. Firstly, this music would be liked more than it would usually because, secondly, of its high perceived appropriateness for the situation: this would lead to a positive correlation between liking and appropriateness. Thirdly, it is extremely unlikely that the person would like the music more than the popular Western styles that he/she listens to at home. This leads to two conclusions. Firstly, since Indian music is more appropriate than Western music but is still not liked more in general, liking and appropriateness cannot be regarded as effectively interchangeable variables. Secondly, liking cannot be the cause of music being perceived as appropriate, otherwise Western music would be perceived as more appropriate for the Indian wedding celebration. It seems more likely that exposure to music in an appropriate context may influence liking (i.e. the reverse causal relationship) by increasing it beyond its usual level. These issues deserve to be investigated in future research.

The present study also raises another more general issue. Whilst a laboratory-based approach has obvious advantages, future research in naturalistic settings may also be valuable. It is impossible to study variables such as 'appropriateness' in a neutral laboratory setting. Technological advances such as portable audio cassette players mean that music is experienced in a wider variety of settings than ever before, and the results here suggest that research on the effects of these listening situations may lead to some interesting findings.

In conclusion, whilst the results generally support the validity of Berlyne's theory in a naturalistic setting, other variables such as appropriateness may also be associated with musical preference in these situations. More generally, these results demonstrate that musical preference does not exist 'independent of the contexts in which people enjoy aesthetic stimuli in daily life' (Konecni, 1982, p. 498). Future research in experimental aesthetics should consider the importance of social psychological factors when attempting to explain everyday aesthetic experiences.


The authors are extremely grateful to Janet Julian and Dawn Mogg for allowing access to aerobics and yoga classes.


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Appendix: Details of musical excerpts

Introduction excerpt:

'Poland' - Tangerine Dream

Experimental excerpts (in order of ascending 'complexity'):

'Theycch' - Fuse

'Astral Voyager' - Tangerine Dream

'Callas Went Away' - Enigma

'Ju Ju Space Jazz' - Brian Eno

'Ravinia/Vancouver' - Jon Hassell

Final excerpt:

'Watermark' - Enya
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Author:North, Adrian C.; Hargreaves, David J.
Publication:British Journal of Psychology
Date:Nov 1, 1996
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