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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00674

Decomposing complexity preferences for music

  • 1Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Netherlands

Recently, we demonstrated complexity as a major factor for explaining individual differences in visual preferences for abstract digital art. We have shown that participants could best be separated into two groups based on their liking ratings for abstract digital art comprising geometric patterns: one group with a preference for complex visual patterns and another group with a preference for simple visual patterns. In the present study, building up on these results, we extended our investigations for complexity preferences from highly controlled visual stimuli to ecologically valid stimuli in the auditory modality. Similar to visual preferences, we showed that music preferences are highly influenced by stimulus complexity. We demonstrated this by clustering a large number of participants based on their liking ratings for song excerpts from various musical genres. Our results show that, based on their liking ratings, participants can best be separated into two groups: one group with a preference for more complex songs and another group with a preference for simpler songs. Finally, we considered various demographic and personal characteristics to explore differences between the groups, and reported that at least for the current data set age and gender to be significant factors separating the two groups.

Keywords: Complexity, liking, Music, preference, individual differences, Cluster analysis

Received: 07 Sep 2018; Accepted: 11 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Claus-Christian Carbon, University of Bamberg, Germany

Reviewed by:

Daniele Zavagno, Department of Psychology, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
Karim Weth, University of Bamberg, Germany  

Copyright: © 2019 Güçlütürk and Lier. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Yağmur Güçlütürk, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, 6525, Netherlands,