Awe is a complex, cognitive–conceptual emotion associated with transcendence and wonder. Music has the power to create this kind of transcendence. Can music evoke awe? Previous research demonstrates that awe is associated with individual differences in personality such as openness. This study examined whether different kinds of music across a wide variety of genres can evoke awe and whether the experience of awe depends on individual differences. The study further investigated the relationship of awe to patterns of emotional responses to different dimensions of musical genre. Study 1 demonstrated that high need for cognition and low cognitive closure predicted awe for reflective and complex music, that felt happiness predicted awe for all kinds of music, and that perceived happiness and sadness predicted awe only for reflective and complex music. Study 2 replicated the finding that perceived sadness can evoke awe in reflective and complex music and further demonstrated that experienced musical awe correlates with individual differences in the tendency to experience awe more generally. These results are of interest to advertisers interested in evoking awe with music and marketers interested in segmenting to target the appropriate populations for this purpose.
The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether uses of music partially mediate the link between personality and music preference. Undergraduate students (N = 122) completed the following scales: The Brief Big Five Inventory, The Uses of Music Inventory, The Short Test of Music Preference, The Life Orientation Test Revised, The Beck Depression Inventory, and the Perceived Stress Scale. Openness to experience positively predicted preferences for reflective-complex (RC; e.g., jazz/blues) and intense-rebellious (IR; e.g., rock/metal) music and was inversely related to upbeat-conventional (UC; e.g., country/pop) music, whereas extraversion was positively related to preferences for energetic-rhythmic (ER; e.g., rap/soul) and UC genres. A link between trait optimism and ER music preference was fully mediated by the more prominent extraversion trait. The relationship between openness to experience and RC music preference was partially mediated by cognitive uses of music, with a marginally significant analysis indicating partial mediation of emotional uses of music for openness to experience and IR music preference. Trait neuroticism, perceived stress, and depression scores all correlated positively with emotional uses of music. The current findings support studying personality contextually alongside uses of music when investigating music preference and shed light on how negative affect may inform emotional uses of music.