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Musical preferences are typically determined by asking participants to indicate their favourite musical genres. These genre-based measures have some considerable pitfalls, since specific pieces of music in a genre might be liked more than the genre itself, and finding consensus to define a genre is often a challenging task. The aims of the present study were to (1) assess how effective genre-based measures are at identifying musical preferences, by comparing them to free responses; (2) demonstrate how the fit can be improved between the genre-based measures and sampled population; and (3) suggest and evaluate methods that use lists of liked and disliked artists to define musical preferences. Two surveys (n = 346 and n = 861) were administered to a university population. Both surveys contained modified versions of the STOMP (Short Test On Musical Preferences, Rentfrow & Gosling, 2003), together with open questions about music that was liked and disliked. We found that for 29% of the individuals, the genre-based measures did not successfully account for their musical preferences. A number of improvements are suggested to optimize the measures. Additionally, we introduce the Artist-based Musical Preferences (AMP) as a more ecologically valid instrument to assess musical preferences. © The Author(s) 2012.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychology of Music

Publication Date





499 - 518