Aesthetic Absorption – An Empirical Study of the Role of Absorption in the Aesthetic Experience and Appreciation of Music
In the context of the reception of art, absorption denotes a psychological condition characterized by moments of intense and seemingly effortless high involvement; usually the intensity is moderate, with an element of conscious awareness. This project examines the role of absorption in the aesthetic appreciation of music. It considers whether being absorbed while listening to music has significance for the music’s later assessment as aesthetically pleasing. An important aim of the project is to examine whether aesthetic absorption demonstrates a unique experiential profile, and to describe it in detail. In addition, by considering the widest possible range of musical styles, we will be able to understand the extent to which they are tied to the characteristics of specific experiential profiles.
The project involves the following four empirical studies: (1) a detailed qualitative interview study whose focus will include the question of which musical characteristics participants consider responsible for their states of absorption; (2) the examination of available methods of measuring variability in altered states of consciousness and attentiveness, in respect to their capacity for quantifying the effects of listening to music; (3) the development of two questionnaires, addressing, respectively, the different dimensions of aesthetic experience and appreciation of music, and (4) a concluding study aimed at ascertaining to what degree the level of state-absorption, along with other experiential features such as emotions and interest, is able to predict the aesthetic appreciation of music in a real-life musical setting.