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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter critically discusses current understanding of the psychology of musical preferences. The first section explores the styles of music people prefer, and the ways in which specific musical characteristics influence preference. The second section examines individual differences in musical preferences, highlighting the role of personality, gender, age, identity, values and responses to music (e.g., physiological, cognitive, affective). The third section outlines the influence of social contexts, including concurrent activities and the presence/absence of others, and cultural contexts at a broader level. The fourth section critically evaluates theories that consider how various individual and social factors interrelate to explain musical preferences, including LeBlanc’s model of variants in musical taste, and Hargreaves et al.’s reciprocal feedback model of musical response. The chapter concludes by drawing out the strengths, limitations and implications of the various approaches, and providing suggestions for future research in the field.

Keywords: musical preferences, styles of music, musical characteristics, responses to music, individual differences, reciprocal feedback model

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