The effects of cultural source sensitivity on music appreciation

Alex Chilvers*, Yixue Quan, Kirk N. Olsen, William Forde Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Music appreciation is a complex process that involves responses to surface-level structure, personal associations, and source sensitivity. Source sensitivity is an understanding of the context in which a musical artifact was created. This article joins a growing body of literature in which program notes are manipulated to highlight the importance of source sensitivity, shifting the focus onto cultural context. Two hundred eighty-four participants formed six groups in a 2×3 between-subjects design. Western and non-Western participants (ethnicity condition) listened to an original percussion composition accompanied by a short text providing a Western, Indian, or blended cultural context (cultural context condition). They then evaluated the music across a range of measures. Exploratory factor analysis revealed two factors of appreciation: Hedonic and Eudaimonic. Results revealed significant ethnicity–cultural context interactions for both. In the Indian context, Western participants exhibited high appreciation, whereas non-Western listeners exhibited low appreciation. Among non-Westerners, appreciation was highest in the blended context. Our results demonstrate an association between cultural source information and music appreciation. We propose that Western participants experience a proteophilic response to Indian music due to their secure status as members of a dominant social group. Non-Western participants, however, require a neutralizing Western context to similarly appreciate Indian music content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalPsychology of Music
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


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