Preference for a piece of music is delineated within 5 seconds of listening. These are the findings of a study conducted by the Department of Psychology at New York University in the United States.

To arrive at this result, the research team conducted an experiment that included a diverse sample of about 650 college students and residents in the New York area. During the study, participants listened to more than 250 complete songs, as well as excerpts of these songs lasting five, 10 or 15 seconds. The researchers also varied the portion of the songs that were extracted, capturing the intro, chorus and verse portions.

Musical genres included songs popular on music charts over the past 80 years, as well as music from a wide range of genres such as classical, country, jazz, hip-hop, rock, electronic and R&B/soul. In the experiment, participants were asked to rate how much they liked a particular song or clip. The rating scale ranged from, ‘I hate it,’ ‘I don’t like it very much,’ ‘Slightly dislike it,’ ‘Indifferent,’ ‘I like it a little,’ ‘I like it a lot,’ and ‘I love it.’

Then, to assess their familiarity with the song, they were to answer this question, “How many times have you heard it before?” With the choice of answers such as: ‘Never’, ‘Once’, ‘More than once’, ‘Several times’, ‘Too many to count’.

Overall, the results showed that participants’ preferences for songs, regardless of whether they listened to a clip or the whole song, were aligned, indicating that clip preference ratings included ‘Likes’ or ‘Dislikes’ for whole songs. Notably, clip length made no difference in listeners’ ratings.

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