In March 2019, the ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference was held at the University of Louisville and six remarkable Duke University seniors were chosen to present their work to their ACC peers.
During the 2019 ACC Meeting of the Minds, Qiang Zhang '19 presented a poster on "Music and Spirituality: The Psychological Impact of Music on Feelings of Spirituality and Connectedness "
Music is a staple of human culture, a powerful tool that has connected individuals across space and time. Within music psychology, the emotion of “spirituality” has gotten a particular amount of attention in recent years. However, there remains a lack of consensus on what spirituality entails, and although studies have sought to connect music and spirituality, these studies view spirituality primarily from a religious context and did not look at the intrinsic characteristics of music that evoked spirituality. To address these gaps, my thesis explores the effects of instrumental music on feelings of spirituality and connectivity in listeners. In particular, I seek to find the features of music that elicited strong reactions of spirituality in listeners, and additionally, study how this process is mediated by individual differences in personality, gender, spirituality, psychopathy, and empathy. To do so, I conducted a pilot study where I mapped 48 instrumental clips onto characteristics based on the 3 fundamental psychological dimensions of music- intensity, valence, and depth, found by Greenberg and colleagues, in order to locate each of the clips as a specific psychological “blueprint” point on a three-dimensional space. In the subsequent study, I determine how spiritual responses to music relate to the dimensions of each piece, and how individual differences moderate these effects. In essence, I hope to contribute to an unexplored area in music psychology literature and illuminate further directions through which to study music and spirituality.