The role of social identity in the formation of biases toward career paths in music among adolescent musicians
Bragle, John Allan
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Researchers have investigated music education majors’ process of socialization to a teacher identity and found evidence of bias against the music education career path regarding perceptions of performance ability. Researchers have also identified that those on musical career paths share influential experiences and influences during adolescence in common, mostly related to performance. The purpose of this study was to examine, thorough the lens of social identity theory (SIT), whether these biases were formed during adolescence. The participants for this study were 821 high school musicians of varying experience and backgrounds. Participants reported significantly stronger levels of self- categorization (V = 0.256, F [5, 816] = 56.11, p = < .0001, η2 = .256) and differentiation (V = 0.459, F [5, 816] = 138.35, p = < .0001, η2 = .459) in favor of the music performance career path. In contrast, participants allocated resources significantly (V = 0.021, F [1, 821] = 17.39, p = < .0001, η2 = .021) in favor of the music education career path. Multiple regression of self-categorization, differentiation, and resource allocation scores found significant predictors among each of the demographic characteristics. Scores of 12th grade participants were significantly more in alignment with the music performance career path when compared to 9th grade participants, as was an increase in median family income percentile. Those who identified as soloists self-categorized and differentiated significantly in favor of the music performance career path compared with those who identified a choir as their main performance ensemble. The intention to major in music was also found to be a significant predictor of self-categorization and resource allocation in favor of the music performance career path when compared to those who were unsure or did not intend to major in music. Findings from this study demonstrate that the biases found among undergraduate musicians are present among adolescent musicians, along with other aspects of social identity development. Strategies to combat these biases are discussed, as well as the implications of these results as a possible outcome of the centrality of performance in music education.