Infant attention, movement, and socio-emotional responses to live musical performances in a group context

Infant attention, movement, and socio-emotional responses to live musical performances in a group context

Presenter Name:Haley E. Kragness

School/Affiliation:University of Toronto Scarborough

Co-Authors:Bryna Berezowska, Laura K. Cirelli

Abstract:Music is often experienced in group settings, and there has been recent interest in investigating the social and affective underpinnings of collective musical experiences. In the present study, a large group of parent/infant dyads watched “The Music Box”, a short infant-directed performance in the style of opera, performed by professional musicians. Fifty infants (6 months to walking) watched the live performance, including a lullaby and a play song. All dyads watched passively (parents asked to avoid interacting musically with their infant) and actively (parents asked to interact musically with their infant), with order of presentation counter-balanced across song type (lullaby or play song) and context (passive or interactive). Play songs captured infant attention to the show (p < .001), while lullabies encouraged infants to direct attention to their parent (p = .014) and others around them (p = .004). Play songs elicited more positive affect than lullabies (p = .003), particularly in the interactive condition. Preliminary analyses of each song across time demonstrated moments of markedly high collective attention that were remarkably consistent across performances, and in ongoing analyses we are examining which performance features elicited boosts in collective attention. To our knowledge, this study represents the first investigation of group dynamics of infants’ attention to live musical performances.

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