To date, behavioural procedures adopted to assess sound preferences in young children have evaluated the responses of participants while listening to the stimuli administered by the experimenter. Due to the difficulties which may arise in the interpretation of the results, recent studies have suggested some limitations to these procedures, stimulating the further development of behavioural methods. Here, we introduce a new method for testing sound preferences in children, in which participants actively produce the stimuli during the experimental session. The apparatus consists of a musical lever which emits different sounds depending on its rotation around a hinge. The device was programmed to emit consonant and dissonant harmonic intervals. The procedure has been tested with 22 participants from 19 to 40 months of age. Results show that: (a) sound emission strongly stimulates toy manipulation; (b) the examined participants distinguished the two types of sounds, showing a preference for producing consonant over dissonant stimuli. This method could be used to study a wide range of sound qualities in young listeners, such as rhythm or pitch. Grounded in the mutual interaction between perception and action, this procedure is in line with recent research highlighting the role of embodiment in the perception of music.
- behavioural methods
- consonance and dissonance perception
- musical toy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychology (miscellaneous)