Listen again! Why do people listen to music repeatedly?
June 24, 2008 7:15 PM Subscribe
Why do people enjoy listening to the same music much more often than they enjoy watching films or reading stuff repeatedly? How come children usually grow out of watching favourite videos over and over, and having favourite stories they want read to them, but remain happy to repeatedly listen to music?
posted by xchmp to Science & Nature (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Watching films or particular episodes of TV shows over and over again is dull. Reading a book over and over is also dull. I'm happy to watch a film I've like again, but only after a year or two has passed. The same thing with reading books. But most people listen to the same music much more often than that. Commercial radio stations are pretty much built around this concept and have playlists that put particular songs into high rotation.
I don't think this is an issue with the duration of these things. I'm happy to listen to the same albums again without the same kind of gap between listenings as with other media. And I'm not happy reading a short-story or magazine article on anything like as regular a basis. I suspect this holds true with most people. Part of the reason people find commercials - even clever and amusings ones - annoying is their repetitiveness.
Children often have videos that they'll watch over and over again without getting bored, or particular stories they like to have read to them. The same kind of behaviour in adults would be considered obsessive. But they don't grow out of liking to hear the same songs repeatedly. Why does our tolerance for repeated exposure to film and stories change as we get older, but not our tolerance for songs?
Is there a neurological reason? Can it be explained by some interesting yet unverifiable evolutionary psychology narrative? What gives?