Music is an integral part of dance. Over the last 10 years, however, dance stimuli (without music) have been repeatedly used to study action observation processes, increasing our understanding of the influence of observer’s physical abilities on action perception. Moreover, beyond trained skills and empathy traits, very little has been investigated on how other observer or spectators’ properties modulate action observation and action preference. Since strong correlations have been shown between music and personality traits, here we aim to investigate how personality traits shape the appreciation of dance when this is presented with three different music/sounds. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between personality traits and the subjective esthetic experience of 52 spectators watching a 24 min lasting contemporary dance performance projected on a big screen containing three movement phrases performed to three different sound scores: classical music (i.e., Bach), an electronic sound-score, and a section without music but where the breathing of the performers was audible. We found that first, spectators rated the experience of watching dance without music significantly different from with music. Second, we found that the higher spectators scored on the Big Five personality factor openness, the more they liked the no-music section. Third, spectators’ physical experience with dance was not linked to their appreciation but was significantly related to high average extravert scores. For the first time, we showed that spectators’ reported entrainment to watching dance movements without music is strongly related to their personality and thus may need to be considered when using dance as a means to investigate action observation processes and esthetic preferences.
Jola, C., Pollick, F. E., & Calvo-Merino, B. (2014). “Some like it hot”: spectators who score high on the personality trait openness enjoy the excitement of hearing dancers breathing without music. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, . https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00718