Effects of non-musical attributes and excerpt duration on ratings of high-level piano performances
Wapnick, J., Campbell, L., Siddell-Strebel, J. & Darrow, A.-A. (2009). Effects of non-musical attributes and excerpt duration on ratings of high-level piano performances. Musicae Scientiae, 13(1), 35-54.
The purpose of this study was to determine if judgments of expert piano performances would be affected by excerpt duration, non-musical attributes of performer attractiveness, dress, and stage behavior, and by an interaction between duration and these attributes. Given that non-musical attributes would be evident from the beginning of a performance but that information about performance quality would accrue with time spent listening, it was hypothesized that non-musical attribute biases would weaken with increasing excerpt length. Thirty-three undergraduate and graduate music majors rated performers on non-musical attributes by observing performers with the sound turned off. One hundred fourteen participants rated 15 performances on 6 test items, either under an audio-only condition or under an audiovisual condition. Excerpts were 25, 55, and 115 seconds. Results showing that high-attractive women held an advantage over low-attractive women for 25-second excerpts but not for longer ones confirmed the hypothesis that the importance of attractiveness declines with increased musical exposure. This hypothesis was less strongly supported for ratings of male performers, for whom differences in dress appeared to be of greater import. It was also found that there was significantly greater agreement between test items within excerpt durations than across them. Ratings were higher at 55 seconds and 115 seconds than they were at 25 seconds, although reliability declined slightly as excerpts became longer. Finally, performances judged under the audiovisual condition were rated significantly higher than performances judged under the audio-only condition.