Distinguishing between the meanings of music: When background music affects product perceptions

Rui Zhu, Joan Meyers-Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations

Abstract

Music theory distinguishes between two types of meanings that music can impart: (1) embodied meaning, which is purely hedonic, context independent, and based on the degree of stimulation the musical sound affords, and (2) referential meaning, which is context dependent and reflects networks of semantic-laden, external world concepts. Two studies investigate which (if either) of these background music meanings influence perceptions of an advertised product and when. Findings suggest that people who engage in nonintensive processing are insensitive to either type of meaning. However, more intensive processors base their perceptions on the music's referential meaning when ad message processing requires few resources, but they use the music's embodied meaning when such processing is relatively resource demanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-345
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Volume42
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2005

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