Attractiveness ratings for musicians and non-musicians: An evolutionary-psychology perspective

  • From an evolutionary perspective, musical behavior such as playing an instrument can be considered as part of an individual’s courting behavior. Playing a musical instrument or singing might fulfill a function similar to that of a bird’s colored feathers: attracting attention. Therefore, musicians may be rated as more attractive than non-musicians. In an online survey, 137 volunteers (95 female) with ages ranging from 16 to 39 years rated the attractiveness of fictitious persons of the opposite sex described in short verbal profiles. These profiles differed with respect to whether the described person made music or not. Additionally, the musicians’ profiles varied with regard to whether the described person played music or sang in public or in private only. Results show that musicians’ profiles were not generally rated as more attractive than non-musicians’, but attractiveness did vary according to setting: private musicians were rated as most attractive, followed by non-musicians and public musicians. Furthermore, results indicate that participants who played a musical instrument or sang themselves gave higher ratings to profiles of musicians. But for participants who do not make music themselves, higher attractiveness ratings for musicians playing instruments or sing in private settings were found. These results indicate that the impression of sharing a common interest (making music) and furthermore making music in private instrumental settings seems to make people attractive to other people. No additional support for the sexual selection hypotheses for the evolution of music was provided by the current results. The musical status of the rater affected his or her judgements, with musicians rating other people as more attractive if they share the common interest in making music. Not the display of being a musician seems to be critical for attractiveness ratings but the perceived or imagined similarity by the rater created by information on musicality, fostering the theoretical significance of the communication aspect of music.

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Author:Stephan Bongard, Ilka Schulz, Karin U. Studenroth, Emily Frankenberg
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in psychology
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
Place of publication:Lausanne
Contributor(s):Lin Zhang
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2019
Year of first Publication:2019
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2019/12/30
Tag:attractiveness; courting behavior; evolution; music; musician
Issue:Art. 2627
Page Number:9
First Page:1
Last Page:9
Copyright © 2019 Bongard, Schulz, Studenroth and Frankenberg. 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.
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften / Psychologie
Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
7 Künste und Unterhaltung / 78 Musik / 780 Musik
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0