Take Action

Home | Faculty & Research Overview | Research

Research Details

Cueing Morality: The Effect of High-Pitched Music on Healthy Choice, Journal of Marketing


Managers often use music as a marketing tool. For example, in advertising, they use music to intensify emotions; in service settings, slow music to boost relaxation, and classical music to convey sophistication. Here, the authors posit a novel effect—higher-pitched music can boost healthier choices. Recognizing that many perceptual characteristics of higher pitch (e.g., lighter, elevated) are conceptually associated with morality, they theorize that listening to higher- (vs. lower-) pitched music can cue morality. Furthermore, thoughts about morality can prompt moral self-perceptions and, in turn, thoughts about “good” behaviors, including healthy choices. Thus, listening to higher-pitched music may increase healthier choices. Employing field settings and online studies, the authors find that listening to higher-pitched music increases consumers’ likelihood to choose healthy options (Studies 1, 3, and 5), choose lower-calorie foods (Study 2), and engage in health-boosting activities (Study 4). This effect arises because high pitch raises the salience of morality thoughts (Studies 4 and 5). The article concludes with a discussion of theoretical and managerial implications.




Xun (Irene) Huang, Aparna Labroo

Date Published



Huang, Xun (Irene), and Aparna Labroo. 2020. Cueing Morality: The Effect of High-Pitched Music on Healthy Choice. Journal of Marketing.


Explore leading research and ideas

Find articles, podcast episodes, and videos that spark ideas in lifelong learners, and inspire those looking to advance in their careers.
learn more


Review Courses & Schedules

Access information about specific courses and their schedules by viewing the interactive course scheduler tool.


Discover the path to your goals

Whether you choose our Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA program, you’ll enjoy the same unparalleled education, exceptional faculty and distinctive culture.
learn more