Commentary: Considering Assumptions in Associations Between Music Preferences and Empathy-Related Responding


  • Susan A O'Neill



music preferences, empathy-related responses, prescriptive and causal assumptions, axiology


This commentary considers some of the assumptions underpinning the study by Clark and Giacomantonio (2015). Their exploratory study examined relationships between young people’s music preferences and their cognitive and affective empathy-related responses. First, the prescriptive assumption that music preferences can be measured according to how often an individual listens to a particular music genre is considered within axiology or value theory as a multidimensional construct (general, specific, and functional values). This is followed by a consideration of the causal assumption that if we increase young people’s empathy through exposure to prosocial song lyrics this will increase their prosocial behavior.  It is suggested that the predictive power of musical preferences on empathy-related responding might benefit from a consideration of the larger pattern of psychological and subjective wellbeing within the context of developmental regulation across ontogeny that involves mutually influential individual–context relations.