A cross-cultural study of music listening experience, preference and health and wellbeing

Mary Haiping Cui, Don Knox, Gianna Cassidy, Raymond MacDonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Aims: This study compares and contrasts music listening experiences in different cultures. It aims to illustrate the differences and similarities of health and wellbeing concepts and shed light on music preference across cultures.
Methods: Using an ecologically valid methodology Experience Sampling Method, music listening experiences were registered among two groups of participants (300 local Scottish and 300 local Chinese participants) by text messages and dairy. Data collected includes social surrounding, activities, information of the music (self-chosen or not), ways of access, playback method (e.g. iPod or radio station), emotional responses etc. WHO Quality of Life and Music Experience Questionnaire were employed in participant’s first language. Four domains of quality of life (physical; psychological; social relations; environment) and six aspects of music experiences (commitment to music; musical aptitude; social uplift; affective reactions; positive psychotropic effects; reactive musical behaviour) were examined in both cultural context and relate to everyday music listening experiences data.
Outcomes: Music has merged into daily life contexts privately as well as socially in both cultures. More occasions of applying music deliberately for health and wellbeing purposes were registered in China. Participants from Scotland rated higher environmental quality but lower psychological health and wellbeing. Younger music listeners adopted more modern playback technology and multi-media promoted western music among Chinese listeners. Free online downloading occurred in both cultures. More heavy metal and Hip Hop lovers in Scotland; pop and dance music were popular in both China and Scotland.
Implications : Music plays an important role in daily life and has a significant effect on our health and wellbeing. Health promotion is more focused in China and more awareness of applying music to promote balanced mental health could be learned and raised in both cultures. The choices of music could be led more by long-term health and wellbeing factors rather than instant pleasure.
Fast development of modern audio technology has provided simple and easy access to music but brought forth the side-effect of devaluaing music in both cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings: SEMPRE Conference 'Striking a Chord': Music Health and Wellbeing: a conference exploring current developments in research and practice
EditorsMatthew Shipton, Evangelos Himonides
PublisherInstitute of Education
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9781905351176
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2011


  • western music
  • cultural differences
  • health and well-being
  • Chinese music
  • questionnaires


Dive into the research topics of 'A cross-cultural study of music listening experience, preference and health and wellbeing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this