Attribute accessibility, normative influence, and the effect of classical and country music on willingness to pay for social identity and utilitarian products

Publication Name

Psychology of Music


Previous studies indicate that background classical music is associated with customers in retail and leisure premises being prepared to pay more for various products and services. This online experiment tests whether these effects are due to music increasing the salience of valued product attributes (attribute accessibility hypothesis) or to a demand characteristic wherein music implies a norm to purchase expensive items (normative behavior hypothesis). A 3 (type of music—classical, country, no music, between subjects) × 2 (type of product—social identity or utilitarian, within subjects) × 2 (high vs. low incentive for accuracy, between subjects) mixed design was used in which participants stated the specific amount they would be prepared to pay for 30 products using free-choice format. Results showed a Music × Type of Product interaction, such that preparedness to spend was higher in the classical music condition but only in the case of social identity products. This is more consistent with the attribute accessibility hypothesis than the normative behavior hypothesis, and various commercial and practical consequences of these findings are discussed.

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