Influence of Physiological, Psychological and Social Factors on Musical Preferences

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What physiological, psychological and social factors influence our musical preferences?

Music refers to the art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion; however individuals differ in their preference of music.

Development studies estimate that the auditory system of a foetus is fully functioning at around 20 weeks of pregnancy; at this point the foetus is able to the mother’s heartbeat and is able to recognise other sounds. In past there has been an increased interest in foetal perception and cognition. In a cross-cultural survey of maternal knowledge and beliefs concerning foetal development conducted in France and Canada, investigators (Kisilevsky, Beti, Hains &Lecanuet, 2001) found that many pregnant mothers believe that all perceptual systems are developed by about 25 weeks and that many believe that also believe that foetuses react to music about 1 week later. In recent years the belief that music can improve the intelligence of the foetus has been spoken amongst parents and researchers- however at the moment there have been no causal studies to support this. It is known that foetuses can hear by the last trimester of pregnancy (Kisilevsky, Pang & Hains, 2000) and that music played in the external environment is recognisable in uterus (Querleu,Renard, Boutteville & Crepin, 1989) but no evidence to suggest improved intelligence.

By the ages of 10-11, children’s interest in music increases as they listen to music more frequently, it is generally assumed by researchers that this point of their lives is a critical period for establishing musical preferences. Critical period refers to a period of one’s development in which a particular skill or characteristic is believed to be most readily acquired, therefore in this case music preference. Media usage tends to change for young people as they enter their teenage years; older teenagers and early...
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