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Farewell to Holbrook & Schindler’s (1989) “Song-Specific Age”? – Little Evidence for Lifelong Influence of Age-Specific Musical Preferences

  • As predicted by Holbrook and Schindler (1989) in a seminal study, popular music from the charts released when a person is roughly 23.47 years old (so-called Song-Specific Age, SSA) has a particularly positive impact on that person’s song evaluations decades later. In our replication study, N = 162 participants (M age = 59.1 years, SD = 17.3) indicated their preferences for 18 song excerpts randomly selected from a corpus of 87 German Top 10 chart hits, released between 1930 and 2017. The fitting of a quadratic curve (as in the original study) to the aggregated ratings revealed a much earlier overall SSA peak at 14.16 years (R 2 = .184). The best approximation to the original SSA peak of 23.47 years was found only for the elderly subgroup of participants aged 50+ years with an SSA value of 22.63 years, however, with a relatively low goodness-of-fit (R 2 = .225). To summarize, the original finding of an SSA peak in the phase of early adulthood (23.47 years) could not be confirmed in terms of a point estimate. Instead, various subgroups showed various SSA peaks. The decomposition of ratings on the song level by latent profile analysis revealed four basic rating patterns (constantly high, constantly low, increasing, and decreasing over time) that might explain the different findings of the overall course of SSA regression curves within our subgroups without reference to the concept of SSA. Results are discussed in favor of current dynamic models of lifelong changes in musical preferences. We conclude that today, the SSA proposition – at least in its original form – seems to be of only limited validity for the explanation of musical preferences.

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Author:Reinhard KopiezORCiDGND, Jan Weigang, Friedrich PlatzORCiD, Nina DüvelORCiDGND
DOI original:https://doi.org/10.1177/20592043211001794
Parent Title (English):Music & Science
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2021
Publishing Institution:Hochschule Hannover
Release Date:2024/05/29
Tag:Autobiographical memory; Latent class analysis; MEAM; Music; Music preference; Reminiscence bump; Replication
GND Keyword:Episodisches Gedächtnis; Latent-Class-Analyse; Musik; Musikalischer Geschmack
Page Number:20
Institutes:Sonstige Einrichtungen
DDC classes:150 Psychologie
780 Musik
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell 4.0 International