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RESPECT Music Scale

The Ratings of Experienced Social, PErsonal and Cultural Themes of Music functions (RESPECT-Music) scale measures reasons why adolescents and young adults listen to music across cultures. We developed the scale based on previous qualitative work (Boer & Fischer, 2011) in which people around the world had discussed with us why and when they are listening to music in their daily lives. The scale has been developed and tested in six cultural contexts, with data from over 2,000 students and adolescents.

The scale brings together all the major theoretical functions that have been discussed in the literature and provides a reliable and short assessment in a single instrument that is applicable across cultures.

The instrument has also helped to clarify the underlying organization of motivations to listen to music. There are two main underlying principles. First, people listen to music to either regulate their affect and enjoy music or they listen to music to express themselves (contemplation). Second, people listen to music in different contexts, either by themselves (intrapersonal), with friends and family (social) or in larger cultural contexts (socio-cultural). Download the full scale.


Cite as:

Boer, D., Fischer, R., Tekman, H. G., Abubakar Ali, A., Njenga, J., & Zenger, M. (2012). Young people’s topography of musical functions: Personal, social and cultural experiences with music across genders and six societies. International Journal of Psychology, 47, 355-369. DOI:10.1080/00207594.2012.656128

Boer, D., & Fischer, R. (2012). Towards a holistic picture of functions of music: A culturally decentred qualitative approach. Psychology of Music,  40(2), 179–200. doi:10.1177/0305735610381885


How can we understand the uses of music in daily life? Music is a universal phenomenon but with significant inter-individual and cultural variability. Listeners’ gender and cultural background may influence how and why music is used in daily life. This paper reports the first investigation of a holistic framework and a new measure of music functions (RESPECT-music) across genders and six diverse cultural samples (students from Germany, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, and Turkey). Two dimensions are underlying the mental representation of music functions. First, music can be used for contemplation or affective functions. Second, music can serve intrapersonal, social and socio-cultural functions. Results reveal that gender differences occur for affective functions, indicating that female listeners use music more for affective functions, i.e., emotional expression, dancing, and cultural identity. Country differences are moderate for social functions (values, social bonding, dancing) and strongest for socio-cultural function (cultural identity, family bonding, political attitudes). Listeners from more collectivistic cultures use music more frequently for expressing values and bonding with friends, while listeners from more secular cultures like to dance more. Listeners from more traditional and collectivistic cultures use music more for expressing cultural identity, and listeners from collectivistic cultures bond more frequently with their family over music. The two dimensions of musical functions seem systematically underpinned by listeners’ gender and cultural background. We discuss the uses of music as behavioral expressions of affective and contemplative as well as personal, social and socio-cultural aspects in terms of affect proneness and cultural values.

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