Openness to experience and auditory discrimination ability in music: An investment approach

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Donald A. Hodges, Professor Emeritus (Creator)
Paul Silvia, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Why do people vary in how well they discriminate musical sounds? The present research explored personality traits as predictors of auditory discrimination ability, a cornerstone of many popular musical aptitude tests. According to investment-theory approaches, personality traits can shape the growth of cognitive abilities by affecting the kinds of activities and experiences people select. It thus seems likely that Openness to Experience – a broad trait associated with aesthetic and creative interests – would predict variation in auditory abilities because it is associated with greater engagement with music. A sample of 183 young adults completed an auditory discrimination task (the Musical Ear Test), the HEXACO personality inventory, and items measuring past music training. As expected, Openness to Experience significantly predicted auditory ability (ß = .28 [.14, .42]). Mediation models indicated that this effect was fully mediated by music training: people high in Openness had significantly more formal training in music, and music training in turn significantly predicted auditory ability. The findings thus strongly support an investment-theory approach to understanding the role of personality in musical auditory abilities.

Additional Information

Psychology of Music
Language: English
Date: 2016
auditory ability, investment theories, musical ear test, music expertise, openness to experience, personality

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