Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Media Studies

Reader 1

Alan Hartley

Reader 2

Stacey Wood

Rights Information

© 2013 Cassidy R. Cavanah


Research shows that music transmits both embodied (universally perceptible) and referential (culturally specific) meanings. The present study sought to explore the persuasive power of music in commercial advertising, and the complex ties that exist between music, life experience and perception. The study looked at how the perception of a product could be altered in accordance with specific embodied and referential meanings. With a focus on the effects of music genre and birth cohort on product perception, embodied meanings were expected to produce similar results across birth cohorts, and referential meanings were expected to produce significantly different results. A total of 100 participants were administered the survey online. Participants watched 30-second original video clips and were asked to complete a survey. There were 16 videos made with the 4 products types and 4 music genres selected for the experiment. The survey measured perception through ratings of agreement to statements; one set of statements aimed to measure embodied meaning and the other to measure referential meaning. Each measure of the survey was individually analyzed; data used here is from the analysis of a product as classic. There was a significant main effect of music genre on product perception for a majority of the measures, F(3,273)=13.075, p F (2,91)=3.941, p=.023. There was no significant interaction between birth cohort and music genre on product perception for any measures, F(6,273)=.801, p =.570. Results show that the older cohort prefers classic rock and jazz, the younger birth cohort prefers electronic and pop. Results for the questions looking at referential meaning primarily produced insignificant results.