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Individual differences predict patterns in spontaneous involuntary musical imagery

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  • Daniel Müllensiefen, University of London
  • ,
  • Joshua Fry, Goldsmiths, University of London, Denmark
  • Rhiannon Jones, University of Winchester, Denmark
  • Sagar Jilka, Imperial College London, Denmark
  • Lauren Stewart, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • ,
  • Victoria J. Williamson, University of Sheffield, Denmark

INVOLUNTARY MUSICAL IMAGERY (INMI) DESCRIBES the everyday phenomenon of having a tune stuck in the head. Research has established the ubiquity of this form of spontaneous cognition but the predictive role of individual differences is still debated. This study examines the impact of everyday musical behaviors and subclinical obsessive compulsive attributes on INMI experiences. In total 1,536 participants completed three online questionnaires; a novel inventory of musical behavior and INMI, and a standardized obsessive compulsion (OC) inventory. Exploratory factor analysis (N = 512) and structural equation modelling (N = 1,024) were applied. Everyday singing and music listening positively predict length and frequency of reported INMI episodes, respectively. No relationships were found with musical training. High OC was positively related to INMI frequency and disturbance, but only indirectly to INMI episode length and unpleasantness. The identified contributory factors of INMI experiences are discussed in the context of musical memory and spontaneous mental activity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMusic Perception
Pages (from-to)323-338
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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