Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Social/Personality Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 42 pages) : color illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ronald Friedman

Committee Members

Gregory Cox


chords, colors, consonance, need for closure, preference-for-harmony, Harmony (Aesthetics), Harmony, Musical intervals and scales, Dissonance (Music), Color

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


According to Palmer and Griscom (2013), individual differences in the preference-for- harmony (PfH)—the tendency to prefer stimuli that represent “good gestalts”—is relatively consistent across domains of aesthetic judgment. In the present study, we built upon their findings by showing that PfH for color combinations is strongly associated with PfH for isolated musical chords. We also newly showed that ratings of the harmoniousness of chords are not uniquely predicted by their objective harmonicity (the extent to which their constituent partials resemble a harmonic series), but rather, by a combination of their “smoothness” (the lack of spectral interference between their constituent partials), and their relative familiarity. Additional analyses failed to show any association between PfH and the need for closure, confirming that individual differences in PfH are specifically pertinent to aesthetic judgments and not a product of a generalized desire to avoid ambiguity in cognitive processing. In sum, the findings of the study suggest that PfH represents a relatively unique cross-modal influence on aesthetic responses, one that meaningfully contributes to preferences for musical chords.