Meaning in music: Deviations from expectations in music prompt outgroup derogation


Correspondence to: Paul James Maher, Department of Psychology, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.



Encountering stimuli that violate expectations can elicit compensatory behavior. One notable result of such compensatory responses is the derogation of outgroups. The present research investigated for the first time if music that defies expectations fosters the derogation of outgroups. In Study 1, exposure to unconventional relative to conventional music increased wagers placed in favor of an ingroup winning a hypothetical rugby match against an outgroup. In extension of this finding, Study 2 revealed that unconventional music led to lower allocated budgets for support of a minority. Study 3 confirmed that music led to harsher punishments of a hypothetical outgroup offender after being exposed to an unconventional edit of a music piece relative to its regular version. The consequences of these findings are discussed in relation to intergroup relations and theories of meaning maintenance. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.