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Week 8a: Interpreting Our Data

Anne Dalke's picture

By 5 p.m. on Monday, October 26th (note extension!)
post here a one-paragraph interpretation of the results of your survey.
Support your interpretation with a graph of your respondents' answers to ONE (only one!) of your questions.

"Thinking about How You Think"
Find 5 subjects (doesn't matter who: hallmates, old high school friends, your parents....)
Ask each one of them to
1) Name a favorite musical artist.
2) List 5 attributes that you like about the artist's work.
3) Go to and select this artist
(in the unlikely case that this artist is not in the archive,
you'll have to repeat questions 1-2 w/ another one).
4) Listen to the first 5 songs that Pandora "thinks" you'll like;
don't skip, listen to the whole song; don't do "thumbs up or down."
5) Did you like each of the songs Pandora chose? Rank each of those
selections from a scale of 1 (complete disagreement) to 5
(complete agreement with your preferences).
6) Look @ the reasons Pandora gives for selecting each of these songs:
on the same 1-5 scale (from complete disagreement to complete agreement),
how well do the musical elements Pandora identifies correspond with those you listed in #2 above?
7) On the same 1-5 scale: what's your reaction to the possibility that
this company might be able to write an algorithm that predicts
your musical taste? (from 1, most negative to 5, most positive)?

avietgirl's picture

  1) Did you like each of the


1) Did you like each of the songs Pandora chose?
2) How well do the musical elements Pandora identifies correspond with those you listed?
3) What's your reaction to the possibility that this company might be able to write an algorithm that predicts your musical taste? 


My data suggested that people seems pretty happy with their experience with Pandora. However, what struck me as interesting is that one subject said that she was really like the song that Pandora pick out for her but completely disagree with their reason for choosing it. It seems that she is contradicting herself a bit because she also said that she have a possible reaction to it choosing the song for her. I think that there are more reasons than the reasons she said she like the artist. Pandora pick out the songs for her does not belong only to the artist and the reasons they give must have been right because she like the song they suggested to her. I think to go more into this I would have to ask her to listen to more song on Pandora to see if this trend still occurs.


nbagaria's picture

Results form Pandora survey


Question                                                               A              B              C             D              E

Did you like each of the songs that pandora chose


5 5 5 5 3

Reasons that Pandora gave for choosing the songs


5 4 4 5 3
What is your response to the fact that the company might be able to predict the algorithm 5 1 3 1 4


Results in a graph:




Interestingly enough, participant E who is currently a graduate student was far less sensitive to the fact that the company could predict an algorithm for his musical taste than many other undergraduate students. It might thus be inferred that age has very little to do with the sensitivity towards the algorithm, as some undergraduates seemed to view this negatively whereas others seemed to view is positively or remained unaffected by it(participant C).
c.k.koech's picture


Pandora SurveyPandora Survey

c.k.koech's picture


On average Pandora's song selection matched the tastes of the students I surveyed. Most students agreed with the reason each song was chosen. Almost across the board, as I read other students graphs, there seems to be almost a consensus that Pandora works and is relatively accurate. On the subject of having a program like Pandora, who can  create an algorithm to predict your musical taste, most of the  students I asked felt it was a negative thing.  The idea was that a persons taste in music is completely relative and subjective. Although the survey showed that they liked the songs Pandora chose, it does not consider that a person can enjoy one artist in a genre and not another artist in the same genre. Music is a very personal thing and for the students I spoke to they felt that it would be negative to have Pandora try and predict their taste because many peoples tastes are so varied and their reasons for enjoying music not concrete but more emotional.

ED's picture

Pandora Explorin'

My bar graph illustrates total enjoyment of the songs Pandora chose next to the correspondance of the music's "actual" qualities as compared to the original qualities participants claimed to like. As the graph makes clear, enjoyment of the music is always higher than quality correspondance of the music. This relationship lets us draw several possible conclusions: 1. the five people participating in the survey aren't very aware of the qualities they "actually" like about music, 2. Pandora's choices did not (could not?) account for more qualitative, emotional or personal qualities that participants stated they liked, such as "thought-provoking lyrics", "witty lyrics," "brings back memories," "catchy hooks," and "soulful." The participants in the survey who stated more musically-savvy qualities like "varied rhythms," "piano-centric background," "nice harmonies" and "folk" (person 2, 4 and 5) were much more satisfied with the music choices and the qualities Pandora chose corresponded very closely to their own stated qualities. There is also an interesting connection, I think, between this relationship of how satisfied listeners were and how well the qualities matched, and how "negative" or "positive" participants' respective reactions were to the fact that Pandora might be able to make an algorithm for their music tastes. Again, those who were able to state the qualities they liked in more official and less personal terms felt much more positively (scoring 5 and 4) about this fact whereas the other, evidently less-satisfied group scored 2.5 and 3. Perhaps some people like to know what they like and have it be clear, while others prefer more mystery in their musical choices. The answers to the positive/negative question also could have been affected by the initial inability or refusal of some users (those who said 2.5 and 3) to use official music lingo that Pandora uses in their initial qualities/reasons for liking said artist.

Enjoyment of Music Next to Quality Correlation of Music; Person 1-5Enjoyment of Music Next to Quality Correlation of Music; Person 1-5

pxie's picture

intepreting the survey results of "pandora"

I was first surprised that nearly all my interviewees had already known "Pandora' , and there response was quite identical, which was "Oh, I love Pandora. I use it more often than I use blackboard." Therefore, I think the average score of 4.24 for Question is not surprising. It indicates that Pandora has done a quite good job helping people selecting song that they would like but previously unknown to them. Actually, "Pandora" does save us a lot of time of searching songs . It helps maximizing the pleasure people can get from listening to music with limited time and energy. It is extremely helpful for college students, who are comparatively short of time. 

At first, I was expecting lower rates of Question 5&6 from Chinese students (two out of five of my interviewees are Chinese students), who, relatively, are less exposed to English music. But the result turns out to be the opposite. Chinese students responded the almost the same results  as others. I guess, this result, to some extent, proves the saying that "music is universal".

Ironically, the average score of the last Question, asking whether they would like to invest the company, is much lower, which is only 3.4, though nearly all of them love the website a lot. I cannot tell why they are reluctant to invest the company, but I guess if I asked some economics major students, the result might change. Personally, I consider the website a really promising company to invest.

jrf's picture

Average ranking of songs chosen

Average ranking of songs provided by Pandora


Generally, my respondents were very pleased with the songs that Pandora suggested based on their input. However, as Jessica noted before, there was not a strong correlation between how much respondents enjoyed a song and how closely Pandora's criteria matched the criteria specified by the user before the experiment. This suggests several possibilities. Perhaps, as we noticed in class, users do not know how to articulate their preferences with the same level of detail as Pandora provides. It is also possible that the music Pandora provides has other characteristics in common with the music specified by the user besides those that are isolated by the Music Genome Project, such as the mood of the music or of the lyrics, or that these ideas are articulated with very different words by Pandora and by users.

lcatlin's picture

Pandora Project

Pandora Project

For my graph, it shows all of the questions with each participants response. I did this type of graph to see if there was any correlation between any of the answers. The questions that look to be correlating the most are the red and blue lines- average accuracy of songs chose by Pandora and how well the musical elements identified by the listener and Pandora corresponded. The conclusion I can reach from this is if you were better able to name why you liked your favorite artist, or knew why you liked them, you were more likely to enjoy other songs that sounded similar. There was the least amount of correlation between any of the lines and the green- how much did it bother the respondent that Pandora could predict your favorite music. Most people told me they didn't care, and Brita, the participant who answered 5, was very "freaked out" because it guessed her other favorite artists.

Jessica's picture

The Accuracy of Pandora




In general, the selections made by Pandora seem to be accurate. According to my survey result, there were only 2 out of 15 songs selected by Pandora that scored 2 or lower on the scale of 1-5. Considering that there were 12 songs that were rated 5, which is the highest one can rate, it seems like Pandora did an excellent job of matching people with songs. However, it was interesting to me that answers to the Question 5 did not necessarily match the answers to the Question 6. It shows that Pandora's explanations to the selected songs did not always describe why the users liked or disliked the songs. It suggests that there are more sophisticated reasons that are not easy to be explained behind all the technicalities, which could be sufficiently described in a few words. All participants were not bothered by the fact that Pandora could give suggestions based on the users' favorite artists/songs. It shows that the participants perceived selections made by Pandora as if they were simple suggestions made by friends. Overall, the survey reflects that Pandora is an effective tool of identifying people's music tastes, though not a perfect one.

ellenv's picture

Pandora Survey

In giving this survey to 5 people on my hall I found that, on average, people were quite pleased with the songs and artists that Pandora chose for them to listen to. This is shown by the fact that all average scores given by the participants fall within the 4-5 range on the "likability" scale. This could, however, have something to do with the fact that generally 2 of the songs that Pandora chose for them to listen to were songs actually by the artist that they selected. Many of the other songs also turned out to be songs that the participants already knew, even if they were not written by the artist that they initially chose. That being said, Pandora did manage to pick songs that the participants liked even if they were songs that they already knew. Although there was only one participant who absolutely loved the songs picked by Pandora (shown by their consistent rating of 5), the lowest average was a 4 which shows that while the songs were to their liking, the songs chosen were not necessarily songs they would consistently seek out.



Annagibs's picture

  After completing this


After completing this survey, I found mostly positive reviews of Pandora. There was some speculation that the algorithm could be more complex, allowing for more accuracy, but in general the program was fairly accurate. No one gave any response as less than 2/5, which indicated to me that Pandora was generally correct with its predictions, user-friendly, and inviting enough to not intimidate users with its seemingly "know-all" musical algorithm. There was a good variety of bands selected by the subjects, which also indicates that Pandora has a wide breath of musical genres and acts in its database. In conclusion, Pandora is a fun, easy, and dependable program.  

jtm715's picture

In (almost) Complete Happiness With Pandora's Choices

With just a few outliers, most of my participants agreed with Pandora's choices. This question was also the one with the most diverse answers, and for the other questions even more of the results seemed to be in agreement with what Pandora gave them.

Sharaai's picture

When running the Pandora survey

When running the Pandora survey, many of the girls that I surveyed were shocked by the music choices that Pandora made for them. For all of the stations, they started with the named artist and went off from there. Many of the girls either didn’t have an idea of what was playing at the moment, or knew exactly what it was. There were no reactions that centered towards the middle. As unknown songs kept playing, girls made comments like “I like this song” or “If I knew who they were before, I probably would already be listening to them.” The majority of the surveys had a similar experience with choice of songs, with an average of 4.45. I took out the one negative experience with Pandora. With this negative rating, the average would have been 4.12. Though there isn’t a large difference in the average, her personal answers and reactions were very different, comparing her to the other girls.



Each series corresponds with the songs that were played ie. series 1 = song 1.

Lydia Jessup's picture



            From the results of the survey, I found that on a scale of 1 to 5 the listeners gave the songs that were played an average rating of 3.84.  This shows that on average the listeners liked the songs that were played, but did not love them.  I would like to know why the listeners felt this way about the songs.  Had they never heard them before? Or did they know the song, but it wasn’t one of their favorites? As seen in the graph below, the participants in the survey put the reasons Pandora gave for choosing songs a 3.4 on the same 1 to 5 scale for matching their reasons for liking the artist.  From these two data points, we can deduct that on average the participants liked the songs more than their matching criteria said they should (3.84 compared to 3.4).  However, the difference in ratings for the two questions is minimal.  Two out of the five individuals that I surveyed said that part of the reason they did not love the songs that Pandora played was because Pandora matched the musical elements, but not the emotions or mood that the band they chose creates.  The emotional aspects of songs may be a part of the music equation that Pandora cannot solve or predict.  An additional question I would have liked to ask the participants is, “did Pandora introduce you to new artists or songs?"

ygao's picture

Pandora's taste predictions=quite accurate!


As seen from the graph, four out of five people thought Pandora's predictions of their taste in music were accurate above or at average level, only one person felt that Pandora's choice did not fit her taste well. Indeed, two of these four people were very excited to discover Pandora and what it could do. They even recommended it to their friends instantly. I asked the respondent No.4 who rated a "2" about the cause of her dislikes for the music Pandora chose. She replied that  the songs Pandora chose for her was similar to the songs she loved in an element that was just not the one she preferred. She elaborated that her favorite artist was Eminem and the element of personal feelings in his songs. However, Pandora provided similar rap songs for her, focusing on the "gangsta" element in most of Eminem's songs, and not the personal part that she was looking for. From their responses, I have formed two ideas. First, overall, I think Pandora did an amazing job in finding songs for listeners, and I am quite impressed. Second, I think it is realistic to say that nothing can satisfy everyone's tastes and expectations. Especially in this case, where only the artist's name was provided for Pandora. We all expected it to give us exactly what we want, but now to think about it, it is just not completely doable with so little information given. I think that this is a reasonable explaination of why not everyone thought it was accurate, and it is a totally okay senario in real life.

Rabbitbmc's picture

Fig. 1. This figure portrays

Fig. 1. This figure portrays the results of a survey taken from 5 random students at Bryn Mawr College. These 5 students were asked to follow a set of directions pertaining to the musical engine website, Pandora. The participants were asked to type in a favorite artist, and then listen to the first five songs that Pandora chose for them, without skipping ahead. This graphs shows the participant's levels of opinion concerning liking the actual songs, and their comfort level at allowing other people make their musical choices online for them. (the average rating includes 1 being complete disagreement, and 5 being complete agreement)

rshen's picture

Pandora Elements Inaccurate as a Whole


In this graph, the majority of the subjects thought that Pandora did not find songs that had the same elements as their initial song had. No one voted a five (most accurate) although two people voted ones (completely inaccurate). My subject pool was some relatives (parents' age), an old friend (18 years) and my cello teacher (mid-late twenties). Interestingly, I found that people weren't as impressed with Pandora as much as I had anticipated. Most of the subjects, mainly my mom and my grandmother, didn't approve of Pandora. In their opinion Pandora missed the point of their songs/composer and choose newer and irrelevant. I was curious to see what my cello teacher would think of the program. Being in his mid-late twenties, he followed a similar trend as the younger subjects. He was critical of the choices Pandora made (the second song he deemed inaccurate 1) but he would invest heavily in the company. Here's my vast generalization: The younger the subjects were, the more positively they viewed Pandora overall.


hlehman's picture


 According to my survey, most of my participants found that Pandora was very successful in matching their music preference.  They found many of the artists predictable yet enjoyable and agreed with Pandora’s reasons for choosing them.  Overall, it seemed that my participants found Pandora very accurate and were not bothered by its ability to match their music interests.  Although they enjoyed it, most of them would not definitely invest due to lack of confidence in future profits.  Many would also be hesitant to invest because advertisements seem to be the only means for gaining profit and there are not a lot per page, and also people were somewhat frustrated by inability to change more than 5 songs at a time.  On a scale of 1-5, 1 as would definitely not invest and 5 as definitely would invest, no one said they would definitely not invest and 1 person said they definitely would.  3 people were in the middle and gave 2 or 3 as ratings, meaning they are unsure, and 1 person said 4, meaning they would probably invest. 


thatcaliforniagirl13's picture

Pandora is a success!

This graph shows my subjects’ reactions to each of the five songs that Pandora selected. Overall, all five of my subjects enjoyed the song selections made by the website. I purposely chose to include one of my sisters in this survey because she is one of the most picky control freaks I have ever encountered. She was Subject 2. She was the only one that didn’t like the fact that someone else was choosing her music for her because of the lack of control. My sister completely disagreed with her second song choice, yet that didn't affect the rest of her Pandora experience. As seen in the red bars, she enjoyed the rest of the songs selected. The subjects found Pandora as a great site. It was something they found amazing yet slightly weird; that a computer selects music they think they would enjoy based on the selection of one artist. I found that since the subjects enjoyed the song selections, they were more likely to have a more positive feeling towards Pandora. The outlier, my sister, didn’t enjoy one of the five song choices, yet still agreed that Pandora was relatively accurate. Pandora was a success and they have all mentioned more use of it in the future.


kgrassle's picture

Average Rating of Five Songs


     This is a graph demonstrating the average rating of likeability of five songs selected by Pandora for five test subjects.  The test subjects were instructed to tell Pandora their favorite artist, and then to listen to five songs suggested by Pandora.  They then rated each song on a scale of 1-5 (1 being not liking the song and 5 liking the song very much).  I then took the average of the ratings of each listener to see the over-all likeability of the five songs chosen for them.  Overall, the test subjects did not have a positive reaction to Pandora.  One person did not like any of the songs chosen.  Two people had an average rating of around 3, meaning they did not particularly love the songs chosen, but they did not hate them either.  Two people had a stronger liking of the songs chosen for them.  According to the survey sample, Pandora is not as accurate in choosing songs as it advertises.  The results could have been impacted by the test subject’s choice in artist.  If the listener chose an artist based on a particular song in mind, Pandora may choose incorrectly.  The experiment might be different if listeners were asked to choose a favorite song rather than a favorite artist.       


maliha's picture

Pandora Survey

      This was an interesting experience  because a few of the people I asked had a difficult time trying to list five reasons why they liked their specified artist. It led me to believe that they don't usually think about why they like the things that they do, which I can also relate to. Most of the people I asked were surprised by how well Pandora could predict their likes and dislikes. None of them were at all bothered by the idea that a website could guess these things about them from just knowing one favorite artist. In general, the songs all recieved very high ratings, and people agreed with the reasons. Although people liked the website, they were ambivalent about investing in the company. 


kdlz's picture

 Sorry here is the graph, I

 Sorry here is the graph, I don't know why it didn't show up down below:



kdlz's picture

Pandora Survey


*Note: the scale of “Liking” a song was 1=complete dislike, 5=complete like


The results of my survey showed that in general, Pandora did a great job in finding songs that the person liked. For the graph above, I averaged the ‘score’ given to each song to find, on average, how well Pandora picked out a song.  Pandora scored in the range of 4 and above for all the participants, showing that in general, it picked out songs that the participants liked.  These findings can also support the idea that people are more or less ‘happy’ or feel ‘positively’ about a company that is able to write an algorithm to predict musical taste. All the responses to this question were “4” on the scale of Positive (5) to Negative (1). This makes sense because everyone who took this survey was overall satisfied with the songs picked out, and thus why would they not like a music site that helps them find other songs that they like (but they just don’t know about!).  The average response for the satisfaction in the reasons Pandora chose each song was 3.6, meaning that in general, people were slightly more satisfied than not. Pandora simply provides a name to an attribute that the participants liked but simply did not know what the technical term was. 

rmilitello's picture

Pandora Turns Out to be a Hit



          It seemed that everyone I asked to listen to Pandora was extremely satisfied with the music that they heard. In fact, people were so satisfied that they would be willing to invest in the company…if they had the money to invest. Yet, people did not find that the songs played entirely corresponded with their original choice of song. Yet, because everyone was so satisfied with the music that they heard (giving ratings of 4 and 5) I imagine that Pandora is succeeding in exposing people to new music that they’ll love. Interestingly enough, no one seemed bothered by the fact that Pandora might be able to come up with an algorithm that could predict his or her musical taste. If anything, people seemed to think it was a good thing. If I were to make an assumption as to why I would say that people like convenience. After having to make so many decisions in a day I think that it is nice to not only have the opportunity to listen to music you know and love, but also have the chance to add to that repertoire without the hassle of trying to locate music you like on your own time.





Calála's picture

Trying to find a correlation...

The responses to my data collections were mixed, and it was hard to see any real trend. The five participants in general had positive reactions to Pandora, whether or not the songs matched the reasons they had listed for question two. In the graph, I wanted to see whether there was a correlation between the responses to questions six and seven. Question six asked how accurately the reasons Pandora gave for playing the songs matched the reasons you had listed and question seven asked whether you had a positive or negative reaction to the fact that Pandora can predict your music taste. I hypothesized that these questions would be proportional, with positive reactions for number seven accompanied by high scores for question six. However, from the five data points there was no obvious correlation. In order to properly test this possible correlation it would be necessary to survey a much larger data set.

Pandora Survey

lkuswanto's picture

it's just entertaning.






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From this graph, we can see that 3 out of 5 participants are not willing to invest in this company (Pandora) though they find Pandora very entertaining and accurate in choosing songs that they “may” like. At first, I was confused by their response how they enjoy Pandora but not willing to invest in the company. In my opinion, though they enjoy Pandora, they do not really care about it as it is not something that they really need. In short, it is not a worthy enough case to spend money on. Pandora is just a company that “entertains” us, but not fulfilling our basic needs. People may find other alternative to entertain themselves other than using Pandora, so they think that it is not worth it to invest money on Pandora as there are other means to entertain ourselves.

Avocado's picture

Pandora schma.

                         Attributes Emphasized!

  This is a comparison between the qualities pandora uses to discover music it thinks its users will like, versus how the users themselves would go about searching for new music.  On average, the numbers show how pandora and its users rate the relevance of different qualities for determining their musical taste.

Comparing Qualities

Shayna S's picture

An Enjoyable Experience

In my small survey, Pandora had a positive review. Participants wrote that, for the most part, Pandora picked five songs that accurately represented their tastes in music. Participants also commented on how it helped them find new artists or new songs that appealed to these tastes. Participants were relatively unbothered by the mathematical structure of the system. Despite the positive responses, some participants did not feel they should invest in the company. However, the majority responded towards agreement with investing in Pandora.  This is a program that takes the role of the choice architect.  Still, it is the user that “nudges” the program to her musical tastes. The data leads me to believe that Pandora accurately achieves its goal of predicting user taste and suggesting typically unknown artists or unknown songs by known artists based on these tastes. The fact that Pandora uses a mathematical formula to proceed with these predictions seems to not be an obstacle for users.  According to my sample, Pandora succeeds in its programming to provide an enjoyable musical experience. Rating of Accuracy and Enjoyablility of Selected SongsRating of Accuracy and Enjoyablility of Selected Songs


Maiya Zwerling's picture

Pandora is Awesome!

Pandora’s main goal is to play only music the listener will love. The responses to my survey indicated that Pandora has accomplished their goal. All of the listeners responded that the predictions were entirely accurate and that they were satisfied with the results. The reasons given by Pandora behind each song choice were almost exactly on point to the listener’s perspectives. Although the listeners were discomforted by the exactness of their results, they mostly were willing to invest in the future of this product. This trend of satisfaction is depicted in my graph. It illustrates the answers to these question, “How accurate were the predictions?” and “Did you like the songs they chose?”. Unanimously, the listeners ranked this question a five, demonstrating that Pandora has accomplished its goal. I think, in the visual cues of my graph, and simply the results, that is a very telling response. My results demonstrate that although people may be discomforted by the means of establishing the song choices, listeners in general are impressed by the precise predictions they received in considering their music tastes.

Pandora Graph