Associations between musical and non-musical abilities


The focus of our current research is on associations between musical skills and non-musical skills, such language proficiency, memory, and empathy. These associations are of increasing interest to psychologists and neuroscientists alike. Yet, due to the absence of a standardized method to objectively assess musical abilities, these connections have been difficult to examine.

To counteract this limitation, we created the Profile of Music Perception Skills (PROMS; Law & Zentner, 2012, Strauß et al., 2015). The PROMS is an objective, multidimensional test of musical abilities that can be administered to large parts of the population online, thereby offering a means for the systematic and cumulative study of musicality.

Currently, we work on the enhancement of the PROMS. For example, we are currently piloting a version for young children as well as a short version (Strauß et al., 2015). In addition, we examine associations between musical abilities and aspects of “emotional intelligence”. Preliminary analyses indicate that people who perform well on the PROMS also show above average emotion recognition abilities and empathy (Strauß & Zentner, 2015).



Kunert R., Willems R. M., Hagoort, P. (2016). An Independent Psychometric Evaluation of the PROMS Measure of Music Perception Skills. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0159103.

Law, L. & Zentner, M. (2012). Assessing musical abilities objectively: Construction and validation of the Profile of Music Perception Skills. PLoS ONE 7(12): e52508.

Strauß, H., Shakeshaft, N., Plomin, R., & Zentner, M. (2015). “Introducing the Mini-Proms: A short and objective measure of musical ability” International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS), 12-14 March 2015, Amsterdam. [Download pdf]

Strauß, H. & Zentner, M. (2015). Objectively assessed musical ability and empathy: an analysis based on two multicomponential measures, 4th Conference on Music and Emotion, October 12-14, Geneva. [Download pdf]

Zentner, M. & Strauss, H. (In press). Assessing musical ability quickly and objectively: Development and validation of the Short-PROMS and the Mini-PROMS. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences