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Dobromir Dotov, Daniel Bosnyak, and Laurel J Trainor (2021)

Collective music listening: movement energy is enhanced by groove and visual social cues from other listeners

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74(6):1037-1053.

The regularity of musical beat makes it a powerful stimulus promoting movement synchrony among people. Synchrony can increase interpersonal trust, affiliation, and cooperation. Musical pieces can be classified according to the quality of groove; the higher the groove, the more it induces the desire to move. We investigated questions related to collective music-listening among 33 participants in an experiment conducted in a naturalistic yet acoustically controlled setting of a research concert hall with motion tracking. First, does higher groove music induce (1) movement with more energy and (2) higher interpersonal movement coordination? Second, does visual social information manipulated by having eyes open or eyes closed also affect energy and coordination? Participants listened to pieces from four categories formed by crossing groove (high, low) with tempo (higher, lower). Their upper body movement was recorded via head markers. Self-reported ratings of grooviness, emotional valence, emotional intensity, and familiarity were collected after each song. A biomechanically motivated measure of movement energy increased with high-groove songs and was positively correlated with grooviness ratings, confirming the theoretically implied but less tested motor response to groove. Participants’ ratings of emotional valence and emotional intensity correlated positively with movement energy, suggesting that movement energy relates to emotional engagement with music. Movement energy was higher in eyes-open trials, suggesting that seeing each other enhanced participants’ responses, consistent with social facilitation or contagion. Furthermore, interpersonal coordination was higher both for the high-groove and eyes-open conditions, indicating that the social situation of collective music listening affects how music is experienced.

https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1747021821991793

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