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The "Our Song" Phenomenon and Emotional Response to Music

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
Brittany Baker


Professor Paul Lewis also supervised this senior thesis, project, paper, and presentation. Intimate relationships are the principal part of life within which adults live out much of their emotional relationship. The present study addresses the question of an emotional elicitor such as "our song" to be a predictor of relationship satisfaction. Participants were all given the Marital Satisfaction Inventory, Revised (MSI-R), and their emotional responses were recorded continuously while listening to seven songs. Each member of the romantic couple chose three of the songs individually, and one song was the shared song, or "our song." General hypothesis analysis was between distress in relationship compared to their emotional responses given while listening to their music and overall responses given after listening to the music. It was hypothesized that couples who have a low distressed relationship would be more likely to have more similarities in averages of emotional responses when responding to "our song" and more similarities in averages of emotional responses when responding to their partner's songs. This hypothesis was supported using a linear regression (t(19) = -2.20, p = 0.039) between z-scores of continuous emotional response and the GDS scale from the MSI-R. As well as continuous emotional response, global emotional response or mood scaling assessed each individual in regards to all seven pieces of music. Liking was hypothesized and supported to be greater for those who chose the song. It was also hypothesized that the length of the relationship would be a predictor to similarities in emotional responses to all music. This was not supported, though a correlation between length of relationship and relationship satisfaction (r = -0.382, p = 0.012) were found.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.