Harmon-Jones, Cindy Kay (2011-08). Does Musical Behavior Promote Affiliation?. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • Past research suggested that greater rhythmic complexity in musical behavior increases affiliation in small groups. The current research tested the hypothesis that musical behavior including melody would promote affiliation. In the current experiment, a video showed models either singing nonsense syllables in unison or speaking identical syllables in synchrony. Participants were assigned to either imitate, or merely listen to, the videos. Participants perceived both the synchronous speaking condition and singing conditions as musical behavior. In the imitate conditions, synchronous speaking produced more affiliation and ingroup favoritism and less embarrassment than singing, whereas in the listen-only conditions, affiliation, ingroup favoritism, and embarrassment did not differ between singing and speaking. Reported happiness and fun were greater in the imitate conditions. The successfulness of imitation, coded by judges, was less, and self-reported difficulty was greater, in the singing condition compared to the synchronous speaking condition. Ratings of success at imitation were positively related to affiliation, positive affect, and ingroup favoritism. Ratings of success were also related to the average trait approach motivation, agreeableness, and emotional stability of the groups. The results partially supported the hypothesis that musical behavior promotes affiliation. However, performance of the sound-making task was much worse in the singing condition than in the synchronous speaking condition. Because melody was confounded with failure at the sound-making activity, the effect of melody on affiliation is difficult to interpret. Future research should examine the effect of melody on affiliation when melody is not confounded with failure.
  • Past research suggested that greater rhythmic complexity in musical behavior increases affiliation in small groups. The current research tested the hypothesis that musical behavior including melody would promote affiliation. In the current experiment, a video showed models either singing nonsense syllables in unison or speaking identical syllables in synchrony. Participants were assigned to either imitate, or merely listen to, the videos. Participants perceived both the synchronous speaking condition and singing conditions as musical behavior. In the imitate conditions, synchronous speaking produced more affiliation and ingroup favoritism and less embarrassment than singing, whereas in the listen-only conditions, affiliation, ingroup favoritism, and embarrassment did not differ between singing and speaking. Reported happiness and fun were greater in the imitate conditions.



    The successfulness of imitation, coded by judges, was less, and self-reported difficulty was greater, in the singing condition compared to the synchronous speaking condition. Ratings of success at imitation were positively related to affiliation, positive affect, and ingroup favoritism. Ratings of success were also related to the average trait approach motivation, agreeableness, and emotional stability of the groups.



    The results partially supported the hypothesis that musical behavior promotes affiliation. However, performance of the sound-making task was much worse in the singing condition than in the synchronous speaking condition. Because melody was confounded with failure at the sound-making activity, the effect of melody on affiliation is difficult to interpret. Future research should examine the effect of melody on affiliation when melody is not confounded with failure.

publication date

  • August 2011