The Experimental Psychology of Beauty

By C. W. Valentine | Go to book overview

without any suggestion being made. On the next day the 164 students were divided into three groups. Group 1 heard favourable comments on all selections; Group 2, the control group, heard no comments, not even the names of the pieces; Group 3 heard the same comments as given to Group 1 for selections 1 and 6, but for the German records 2, 3, 4 and 5, the comment was unfavourable.

I give samples here of the "unfavourable" comments, e.g. No. 2: "Adolf Hitler is passionately fond of Wagner's music." No. 3: "Reputed to be Hitler's favourite opera." No. 4: "Wagner was in love with the wife of a fellow musician, an affair which resulted in a divorce, and her subsequent marriage with Wagner." No. 5: "Beethoven, another German composer."

Now for Group 1 (with favourable comments), an average gain of about 8% in the scores was made in the second hearing; for Group 2 (no comments) the average gain was about 4.5%; and for Group 3 (unfavourable comments) the gain was only 1.2%.

Rigg concludes, I think reasonably, that the adverse comments had a decided effect, but that the gain through a second hearing (as shown by Group 2) and better understanding of the compositions, slightly more than compensated for the adverse effects of suggestion on Group 3.


Summary of Chapter XI

As this long chapter deals with a considerable number of specific aspects or elements of music, it may be well to attempt a brief summary of our main findings.

First we note that several independent investigators find their subjects reporting, and sometimes visibly revealing, an impulse to move in time with the music, to beat time or even to dance. In connexion with this we stressed the basic urge to rhythmic movements, and the tendency to apprehend in rhythmic forms even a completely unaccented series of sounds.

Several investigators agree in finding the tendency to movement less in the highly trained musician, which is understandable in that they are likely to be more completely absorbed in grasping the wider structure of the music: so any urge to movement in them is more likely to take the form of a faint idea of the movement as being in the phrases and sentences of the music, rather than a metrical beat prominent in their own consciousness. Nevertheless,

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