Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience


Although scholars from many disciples have contributed hypotheses to explain why humans are a musical species, relatively little empirical evidence exists in favor of any perspective. I argue that music evolved as a tool to facilitate social bonding and is, therefore, able to make people feel more connected to one another. If this is the case, then music may be able to facilitate the reduction of prejudice by helping members of different social groups bond with one another. I investigate this hypothesis through two studies using imagined intergroup contact – a prejudice reducing manipulation. Participants imagined interacting with another student (either black or white) while listening to positive, negative, or no music. Following this manipulation, attitudes towards the African American social group were measured both implicitly and explicitly. The results are not fully consistent with the hypothesis that experiencing music while imagining interacting with an outgroup member will facilitate bonding with that individual and, in turn, reduce prejudice towards that individual’s social group. Throughout these two studies, the results did not provide consistent evidence for the hypotheses.