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Listening questionnaire

Experiment closed

This survey is closed and the data obtained using it have been written up as part of a dissertation submitted as part of the requirements for an MSc in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. The dissertation has the following abstract:

The status of music as an evolutionary adaptation unique to Homo sapiens is an open question, as is the existence and nature of musical universals. By arguing that music is an adaptation with the ultimate function of mediating interactions on a group level by the effective communication or induction of emotion, this study applies Sperber & Wilson's Relevance Theory (1986/1995) and Bloom's theory of artefact classification (Bloom, 2005) to the cognitive processing of music, arguing that the positive cognitive effect of music considered qua ostensive communication is the emotion induced in the listener. These ideas were tested by manipulating the information provided to participants in relation to ambiguous audio stimuli. Manipulations took the form of stories relating to the production of the audio stimulus: intentional or non-intentional. Although a small effect of intentional stories on judgements of musicality and emotional expression was found, the difference was marginal. More interestingly, a correlation was found between preference and the emotion evoked by the stimulus, regardless of the emotional valence. This provides confirmation of the results found by Schubert (2007), and suggests that inducing emotion is at least one of the functions of music. The failure to find a large primary effect of intentionality on any of the measures in this study could be interpreted as evidence for musical universals, or may simply be an artefact of strong enculturation that could potentially be explored by replicating the study in a different cultural context.

The audio samples used in this experiment can be access and downloaded on the project's soundcloud page. If you would like any further information about this project then please contact Francis Nevard at francis AT perplexing DOT net