Desert Island Discs inspired study to identify music preferences during lockdown

A new study inspired by the popular BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs aims to identify the personal connections people associate with listening to music.

Music is something that people turn to for solace, comfort, and reminiscence in times of crisis, and remembering past memories can be a good way of helping to plan for, and think about, the future.

Keele psychologist Professor Alexandra Lamont is leading the international study which will analyse people’s music preferences to identify how they talk about their favourite music, who and what it connects them to, and how it might support them. The study aims to establish how music can support people throughout their lives and help them cope with challenging situations, such as the current global coronavirus pandemic.

The DIY Desert Island Discs toolkit asks participants to choose eight pieces of music they would take with them if they were cast away on a desert island with no access to the outside world. Participants will choose and listen to their eight tracks, and reflect upon the memories and feelings that are associated with each piece.

The ten-step study can be completed either online or offline, and can be undertaken in the participants’ own time.

Professor Lamont has worked with the Desert Island Discs archive for the past couple of years with her students to explore the personal connections associated with specific pieces of music, with the themes of identity, love and support coming from this analysis.

The research team also consists of academics from Durham University, Westminster University, The University of Athens, The University of Milan-Bicocca, and Padova University. The study will be launched in Italian and Greek as well as in English.

Professor Lamont said: “I hope the study gives people a chance to reflect on something precious to them and may help connect them with fond memories or with others. From a research point of view, it will generate rich data on the relationship people have with their favourite music and how it fits into their life stories.”