The influence of contextual cues on cultural bias in music memory

Steven M Demorest*, Steven J. Morrison, Vu Q. Nguyen, Erin N. Bodnar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


WE HAVE AMPLE EVIDENCE OF CULTURAL BIAS influencing music cognition in a variety of ways including memory. The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of various musical elements on Westernborn listeners' cross-cultural recognition memory performance. Specifically, we were interested in whether the enculturation effect found in previous studies would be observed when tuning, timbre, texture, and rhythm were equalized in the presentation of music from two different cultures. In addition we wanted to explore the possible influence of music preference on recognition memory performance. Listeners were randomly assigned to hear Western and Turkish music in one of three musical context conditions (full, monophonic, isochronous) and subsequently tested on their recognition memory. Results indicated that memory performance was superior for in-culture music regardless of contextual condition, with no significant correlation between preference and memory performance. This points to the statistical properties of pitch sequences as a possible source of culturally biased responses in music listening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-600
Number of pages11
JournalMusic Perception
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Crosscultural cognition
  • Enculturation effect
  • Expectancy theory
  • Melodic structure
  • Music memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music

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