Optimal distinctive theory and self-categorization theory hold that association moderately distinctive social categories should be more central to self-conception. The University of Kent has down a few studies to prove that optimal distinctiveness and young people’s expression through musical preference. Children are often characterized by their tendency to associate with peers rather than their parents, to rely on networks of friends with musical, sporting and other subcultures. These theories and studies help us revolutionize the understanding of a child’s musical preference.
Social identity is a piece of an individual’s self-concept derived from participating in a social group of similarity. It has been concluded that through studies of children, social identity contributes to an individual’s musical preference. Turner’s selfcategorization theory proposed that people may categorize themselves and others at many different levels of abstraction, with a superordinate level of humanity at the most abstract end, through an intermediate level of in group-outgroup, to a subordinate level of self as unique from other in-group members.
The social identity theory also includes motivational assumptions, including that intergroup comparisons serve selfesteem needs, and that social identification provides a sense of meaning and decreases confusion about both the social environment and one’s position within it. Social identity is a substantial part of a child’s musical preference. There is now a wide selection of people that balance in different intergroup and interpersonal relationships, use various social categorizations, apply themselves to multiple groups, and have various social identities.
After hanging out with a specific group for a long period of time, you begin to commit a large majority of your time to the group or affiliation. Individuals may move around between groups until they find the one that really sticks with them and this will be the group that they commit to. This directly relates to musical preference, many people will try different genres of music until they find the one that really reaches out to them. The choice that they make will cause them to look for people that listen to that type of music to spend time with.
Music preference is a way of demonstrating with whom ones identity is shared and with whom it is not. Brewer proposed that there are countervailing identity needs for assimilation and contrast. Accepting oneself as a unique individual is perplexing and troublesome, while accepting oneself as a member of a social category is insufficiently selfdefining and limiting to provide a guide for behavior. Identification with social groups is likely to be easier if they were to join a sub-categories without being individualized rather than a larger categories.
This goes along with the optimal distinctiveness theory. The ODT is known as the assumption that the need for good structure, or a coherent and meaningful selfconcept can be more important than the need for positive selfesteem. This suggests that besides the self-evaluative implications of lower status, minority group membership can satisfy the need for optimal distinctiveness and self-definition. When using student groups, they will easily show when distinctiveness is either too high or too low, individuals will compensate by raising evaluations and changing the stereotypes of their ingroups.
Musical identity plays a big role socially on the younger generation. Psychological studies have proven that children hold clear expectations about following a certain genre of music and that genres are based on different lifestyle choices. These music preferences can for lifelong friendships. Brewer proposed that adolescents may maintain optimal distinctiveness by immersing themselves in a subculture to which they conform very strictly, but which makes them very unusual or distinctive to majority or outgroup members.
Self-categorization theory and optimal distinctiveness theory would predict that the intermediate categories would provide both some uniqueness and a degree of understanding. Those who identify with the superordinate categories of pop/rock music will identify less with those categories than will young people who express a preference for intermediate categories. Youth identification has been classified many ways. First, a young person identifying strongly with a genre of music should spend all their time and money in to it.
Second, when identifying strongly with a genre of music you should dedicate your time to the people that listen to the same genre and spend less time alone. There should always be a relationship between the social distinctiveness of resp music style and their engagement in behaviors relevant to commitment and identification with that category. The first study consisted of surveys sent out all across the globe. This then turned into open ended, face to face interviews about the main survey.
The survey asked correspondents to label in their three most preferred musical styles listed in alphabetical order on the survey. The second question asked was ‘In what ways do you follow the style you like most? ‘. There was then a list of five activities, which was then to be judged by a three point scale. One being never, two being sometimes, three being often. The third question was ‘How often do you go to parties, dances or discos? ‘, also judged by a numeric scale.
The last question stated ‘How much spare time was spent with parents, siblings, a partner, close friend, groups of friends or alone? ‘, also judged by a numeric scale. The results came out to be that most individuals go for what is the most popular, but the ones that stick to uniqueness tend to be more conservative and quiet. Study 2 was conducted to determine the correlation between self-categorization theory and optimal distinctiveness. They explored whether popularity was related to familiarity with the styles of music. Subjects were given a piece of paper listing the usical styles. They were then asked to rate each style according to familiarity and popularity.
Familiarity was measured by asking ‘Have you ever heard or do you know about the type of music? ‘, this was answered numerically 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. Perceived popularity was measured by asking ‘How popular is each category of music among 18-20 years olds in the UK? ‘ This was also measured numerically. When calculating the results each participants rankings correlated to one another and with the rank ordered objective popularity ranks from study 1.
These results show that objective popularity of musical styles in the large survey in Study 1 was quite accurately perceived, even with a two year lag, among young people in the age cohort. In conclusion the evidence offers a unique picture of the relationship between the distinctiveness of musical styles and their likely significance for young people’s identity and related behavior. The studies helped to prove the relationships between self-categorization theory and optimal distinctiveness. Adult society looks at the youth music as deviant or destructive, when really these musical forms serve as a positive role in children’s lives.