In an experiment, researchers played a series of musical intervals—two–note sequences—to a large, diverse group of si...

Stephanie on March 30, 2019

Please explain

Please explain why B is the correct answer and all other answers are wrong.

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Shunhe on February 1, 2020

Hi @Stephanie,

Thanks for the question! This question is a Strengthen question. What does the stimulus tell us? In essence, we’re told that babies pay more attention to certain intervals. Why? The argument concludes that humans have a biological predisposition to pay more attention to those intervals. Let’s take a look at the answer choices to see what can help us strengthen this connection.

(A) is wrong because older children and adults may pay more attention to those intervals because they have been exposed to the musical systems of their cultures which feature those intervals more frequently, which would be a cultural, not biological, explanation. They could’ve also just been a continuation of their preferences as babies, which doesn’t strengthen the argument because it doesn’t say anything about if the babies have those predispositions because of biology or another reason.

(B) is the correct answer. (B) helps rule out an alternative explanation—that there’s a cultural explanation for the babies’ predisposition to those intervals. (B) tells us that the babies in the experiment didn’t have previous exposure to music from any culture, which means that it can’t have been a cultural influence from music that shaped the babies’ preferences.

(C) is incorrect because it actually weakens the argument. (C) tells us that the babies were exposed to music, which increases the chance that they were influenced by the music they heard, making an alternative theory more likely.

(D) is incorrect because it’s not very relevant. We can’t draw a link between predispositions to notice certain intervals and predispositions to notice certain colors, since the passage doesn’t say anything about this.

(E) is incorrect because it also weakens the argument. It suggests another possibility: that the babies paid more attention to those intervals because they were played more often, which might have caused the babies to pay more attention to them.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to ask any further questions that you might have.

Sherry on August 2, 2022

I thought that C meant that during the study, the infants were exposed to music equally, which in my mind would strengthen the study because it would be less likely to be argued that the study was biased in favor of one country's music over another. "All of the babies in the experiment had been exposed to music drawn equally from a wide variety of cultures around the world." Was I supposed to assume that the "had" in the answer choice was in reference to an action that occurred prior to the study? Any tips on how not to make these kinds of mistakes?

Emil on August 7, 2022

Hi Sherry,

The study does not actually involve playing music for the babies, it involves playing short musical intervals. We are told that the intervals the babies liked were common across cultures.

You're right that C is telling us the babies had previously been exposed to music from across cultures before the studies.