Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

It’s not what you play it’s the way that you play it

bow_piano_performance_500_wht_12530Professional musicians (96% of them) and novices (84% of them) agree that sound matters most in a musical performance. Pretty obvious you would think. But it’s not so.

Experiments by concert pianist and psychologist Dr Chia-Jung Tsay ( a good name for a psychologist) showed that when it comes to a live performance it’s what you see that counts most – and that applies equally to professional musicians and the novices.

They were more accurate at picking out good performances by watching silent videos rather than audio recordings.

You might have noticed how many classical musicians, especially women, seem to trade on their looks. There are some good looking female musicians out there and the fact they they often appear scantily clad on CD covers hasn’t escaped my notice.

Naturally the study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and which used 900 participants judging a mixture of video-only, video and sound, and sound-only recordings of of the top violin and piano performances from 10 international competitions – has attracted critical comments from musicians.

But only 21% of experts correctly picked the winners from the sound-only recordings compared to almost half who saw the video-only recordings. When given clips of video with sound they were less accurate at picking winners with a 30% success rate. Novices had similar success rates.

Visual cues about “passion” “involvement” and “creativity” were good predictors of winning performances rather than simply how good-looking the performer was.

There still seems to be a degree of impression management going on not to mention people making best use of their “erotic capital


Author: mikethepsych

He says he's a psychologist but aren't we all?

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