Music and social identity: Stylistic identification as a response to musical style

Tekman H., Hortacsu N.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, vol.37, no.5, pp.277-285, 2002 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 37 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00207590244000043
  • Page Numbers: pp.277-285


One function of music is considered to be defining social identity for oneself and for others. This aspect of musical styles was investigated in the light of Social Identity Theory by examining how a college student population described fans of different musical styles. Respondents were questioned about their perception of listeners of six musical styles, two of which were indigenous to Turkey. Three basic dimensions that described the listeners of these styles emerged as the result of factor and scale reliability analyses. These dimensions were labelled the sophisticated, the sprightly, and the loser. Respondents associated these features with fans of different styles to different extents. The sprightly dimension characterized listeners of pop, rock, and rap best. The sophisticated dimension was most closely associated with listeners of classical and Turkish folk music. Listening to Arabesk, which is a style that is specific to Turkey, was most closely associated with the loser dimension. Consistent with the predictions of Social Identity Theory, evaluations by a person were affected by the attitude of that person towards a style in the cases of rock and Turkish folk music. Especially on the sophisticated dimension, respondents who liked rock or Turkish folk music rated the listeners of these styles closer to the ideal than respondents who disliked them. However, the self-evaluations of these groups were similar. Furthermore, respondents typically described themselves as being closer to the ideal value on the three dimensions than the listeners of musical styles they liked. These results provide considerable support for the idea that liking a musical style shows characteristics of group membership according to Social Identity Theory.