Skip to main content
Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Zachary Krastel, Business Administration

Cognitions and Effects in Music Consumption

Friday, October 15, 2021 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Dolly Grewal



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Music plays an important role in our everyday lives, and constitutes a large consumer industry. However, research on music is fragmented across many disciplines, and lacks integration. In marketing, music is rarely the focus of study; it is predominantly examined in terms of its potential as an atmospheric element in retail settings, and is usually only applied as a moderating effect. This dissertation focuses on understanding music cognition by systematically deconstructing it, in order to better understand how music affects individuals and how it can be utilized to achieve specific goals in consumer contexts.

The first essay of this dissertation is a conceptual paper. It reviews the existing research on music and develops a comprehensive model of how music is processed by individuals. The model integrates music’s core compositional aspects (lyrics, pitch, and rhythm) with the types of processing that can result when individuals encounter music (semantic, referential, and social). These processing types are then linked to the outcomes of music seen in existing research. Overall, the model is able to explain how music can influence emotion and create cognitive effects for individuals; specific adjustments to a song’s core elements that can emphasize these effects are delineated. Research propositions are presented which aim to bring clarity and focus to future research using music.

The second essay focuses on a single relationship in this model: between rhythm and social connection. Anthropologists have hypothesized that the rhythm element of music may have evolved over time in human societies as a vehicle for social bonding. Across five experiments, I examine this relationship further. I vary the level of rhythm in a song and show how engaging with rhythmic music with a member of an organization creates a “synchrony effect”, where the two individuals feel closer to one another. Individuals’ prosociality and feelings towards the organization improve after these tasks. I also show how it can lead individuals to change their brand preferences to align with the other participant. This effect occurs even in experiments where a pre-recorded video was used, which improves the feasibility of implementing this research in practice.

Back to top Back to top

© Concordia University