Accounting for expressions of curiosity and enjoyment during music listening

Omigie, Diana and Ricci, Jessica. 2022. Accounting for expressions of curiosity and enjoyment during music listening. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, ISSN 1931-3896 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

Music induces surprise and uncertainty in listeners as it unfolds. However, it remains unexamined whether it is also able to induce waxing and waning feelings of curiosity, how such feelings relate to the enjoyment of music, and what role music’s information theoretic structure and listeners’ expertise and trait curiosity may play. Here, we characterized melodies using a computational model and required participants to report on their experience of them as they unfolded. In a first experiment, listeners indicated, when cued, how curious they were as to how the melodies would continue. In a second, a further set of participants indicated, when cued, how much they were enjoying the melodies, before completing a multidimensional assessment of curiosity. We found a positive association between curiosity and note information content (IC, surprisingness) that was more pronounced in low entropy (highly predictable) contexts. However, we found that curiosity ratings of listeners with no music-theory training (and little/ no experience playing music) were less influenced by musical structure and more driven by judgments of stimulus valence. Finally, we showed that two subgroups of curious people, revealed using cluster analyses, did not differ in how well their curiosity ratings were explained by IC and entropy, but differed in the extent to which their unfolding enjoyment of music changed as a function of IC. Taken together, our results demonstrate that musical structure interacts with musical background to influence the emergence of felt curiosity during music listening, while trait curiosity further influences how listening enjoyment emerges.

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“©American Psychological Association, [2021]. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/aca0000461”


music, curiosity, emotion, expertise, epistemic emotion, information seeking

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30 November 2021Accepted
24 March 2022Published Online

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Date Deposited:

13 Dec 2021 11:34

Last Modified:

27 Apr 2022 13:18

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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