Musical taste is thought to function as a social ‘badge’ of group membership, contributing to an individual’s sense of social identity. Following from this, social identity theory predicts that individuals should perceive those who share their musical tastes more favourably than those who do not. Social identity theory also asserts that this in-group favouritism is motivated by the need to achieve, maintain or enhance a positive social identity and self-esteem (i.e., the ‘self-esteem hypothesis’). The findings of the present study supported both of these predictions. Participants rated fans of their favourite musical style significantly more favourably than fans of their least favourite musical style. The present findings also offer, for the first time, evidence of significant positive correlations between an individual’s self-esteem and the in-group bias shown to those who share their musical tastes. However, significant relationships with in-group identification also indicate that self-esteem is unlikely to be the sole factor responsible for this apparent in-group bias. Together these findings suggest that those who share our musical taste are likely to be regarded as in-group members and will be subject to in-group favouritism according to our self-esteem and how strongly we identify with our fellow music fans.
Lonsdale, Adam J.
Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development
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