Effects of Popular Music on Memorization Tasks

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Effects of Popular Music on Memorization Tasks

The purpose of this study was to find whether popular music would have a positive or negative effect on memory tasks. There are many different perspectives on how background music and noise affects performance. The current body of research reports mixed results with some studies reporting positive effects and some reporting negative effects of music on performance. Numerous studies have been conducted to test the Mozart effect. The Mozart effect is a term used to explain the claim that people perform better on tasks when listening to music composed by Mozart. Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993) indicated that subjects' performance on spatial tasks was better while listening to music compared to the silence condition. Due to this study, many people questioned whether listening to music increases intellectual ability. Other researchers stated that it is possible that the Mozart effect has very little to do with music. They postulated that enhanced performance is due to arousal or mood (Thompson, Schellenberg, & Husain, 2001). Those researchers proposed that musical stimuli that may be enjoyable to that individual might produce a small improvement in performance on a variety of tasks. Many studies have emerged from the concept of the Mozart effect. The results of these studies have been mixed. Ransdell & Gilroy (2001) indicated that background music significantly disrupted writing fluency while using a computer. The participants in that study showed signs of slower writing and a decreased writing quality when their writing was accompanied by background music. An earlier study found that when students frequently studied to music, a specific type of music was less likely to impair their performance on reading comprehension tests (Etaugh & Micheals, 1975). Hillard and Tolin (1975) indicated that if the background music was familiar to the subject, they performed better on the given task than when unfamiliar music was present. Another study argued that the differences were due mainly to individual differences in music preference (Daoussis & McKelvie, 1986). Tucker and Bushman (1991) found that rock and roll music had a detrimental effect on tasks involving mathematical and verbal skills, but it did not have an effect on reading comprehension tasks. In another study, the researchers found that music that contained speech had significant negative effects on the participants' ability to perform tasks (Martin, Wogalter & Forlano, 1988). It has also been found that males and females perform differently in the presence of music when performing various types of tasks (Miller & Schyb, 1989). Although these studies found different results for gender and the frequency of listening to the type of music presented in the study, the results still indicated that music helped their performance. Broadbent (1958) tested the effects of noise on tasks that required complex mental processing. He showed that noise produces deterioration in performance over time. He also proposed that noise has a negative effect on later performing of the same activity in silence. This suggests that there are other factors involved in this phenomenon beyond distraction of attention from the task. The irrelevant speech effect indicates that the presentation of speech based irrelevant sound that is to be ignored by subjects actually impairs their task performance (LeCompte, 1995). The irrelevant speech effect results in performance deficits on many cognitive tasks such as serial recall, free recall, cued recall, and recognition. Irrelevant speech can cause poor performance in many everyday situations such as offices, dorm rooms, and other situations where concentration on tasks is important. One study found words to be more disruptive than tones and nonsense syllables. The researchers suggested that this was due to the semantic meaningfulness of words (LeCompte, Neely, & Wilson, 1997). The irrelevant speech effect breaks...
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