Shared musical activity and perceptions of relationship commitment

Jake Harwood, Sandi D. Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sharing music with another person involves the potential for profound emotional connection, rhythmic synchronization and coordination, and the expression of shared social and political values (among other things). We explore whether experiences of shared musical activity are associated with perceptions of communication and positive outcomes in friendships and romantic relationships, using reports from one member of the dyad. Reports of musical activities in the relationship were associated with higher levels of commitment to the relationship, with those effects mediated by perceptions of interpersonal coordination and positive communication. Surprisingly, structured musical activities (e.g., actively playing music together) were associated with lower levels of commitment, both directly and via interpersonal coordination, positive communication, and shared social values. All findings persist when controlling for other forms of shared relationship activities, thus demonstrating effects that are unique to shared musical engagement. The findings are discussed in a framework of music’s potential relational power—the Shared Musical Activities in Relationships (SMAR) model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1760-1778
Number of pages19
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • affection
  • coordination
  • interpersonal relationships
  • listening
  • music
  • self-disclosure
  • shared values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Music


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