Abstract: Music powerfully engages brain and mind, yet remains largely underutilized as experimental stimulus material. Here, we wondered how ideological differences manifest in terms of musical preferences. To explore this question, we studied a large sample of research participants by exposing them to a representative corpus of musical stimuli while also eliciting their ideological position. Doing so, we found that ideological differences are linked to specific signatures of musical appraisal - there are significant genre-based differences in self-reported listening behavior as well as appraisal differences in how people with different ideological affiliations experience the music when listening to it. This effect is strong: ideology can be used to predict whether an ambiguous stimulus in terms of valence - e.g. country music – is experienced as aversive or enjoyable. As political preferences affect aesthetic judgments, we conclude that ideological positions are more deeply rooted than suggested by a discourse model of political exchange.
Recommended citation: Myers, C., & Wallisch, P. (2020). “The Songs of My People: Appraisal Differences of Popular Music as a Function of Ideology.” Thesis Commons. . 1(1).