Implicit pitch memory in non-absolute pitch possessors

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Robert J. Crutcher


The Two Component Model of Absolute Pitch (Levitin, 1994) claims that Absolute Pitch (AP) can be broken down into two distinct elements: pitch memory and pitch labeling. Previous research suggests that while individuals without AP lack the ability to provide a name or label to specific pitches, they still are able to form a long term memory of those pitches. However, these studies have used overly familiar stimuli (e.g., T.V. themes, favorite songs). This study used less familiar stimuli (i.e., pure tones) in a Mere Exposure paradigm in order to examine whether individuals without AP maintain a representation of pitch in long term memory. Undergraduate students at the University of Dayton were randomly assigned to either a Mere Exposure or Recognition condition. They were first presented with a series of 30 pure tones in which tones were presented 0, 1, 2, 4, or 8 times. Individuals in the Mere Exposure condition were later played the same tones individually and asked to rate how much they liked each tone on a 1-7 scale. The Mere Exposure Effect states that the more one is exposed to a particular stimulus, the more one will like it. Thus, it was expected that tones that were presented more often would be given higher liking ratings. Those in the recognition condition were asked to identify the previously heard tones through a forced choice two-alternative measure. Given that individuals without AP tend to perform poorly on this type of task, it was expected that performance would be at chance levels. Results failed to show a Mere Exposure Effect; liking ratings for tones appeared to be random. Results also indicated that students performed above chance level on the recognition task, contrary to expectations.


Absolute pitch Psychological aspects, Musical pitch Psychological aspects, Musical perception Psychological aspects

Rights Statement

Copyright 2011, author