Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Music and study

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Music and study:
What effect does music have on motivation to study?

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Magdalen Reading - Rogier van der Weyden
Studying can take many forms.

For this chapter the main focus is investigating the affects[grammar?] of music on study. How music affects our intrinsic motivation and cognition and whether this affect facilitates study or whether it is an unnecessary distraction[grammar?]. Additionally, looking at current theories to [grammar?] in this area to provide a greater understanding of the aspects affecting learning, study and motivation to learn with the addition of music. The addition of case studies will provide some reference to how these theories work in a more generalised area as well as answer the main questions of how music affects motivation. What kind of music affects motivation to study and how this understanding can be used for optimal study motivation.

Focus questions:

  • How does music affect motivation?
  • What kind of music affects motivation to study?
  • How can music be utilised for optimal study motivation?

How does music affect motivation?[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

How can background music affect cognitive comprehension?[edit | edit source]

Motivation is a mental process that is commonly affected by both internal and external factors, [grammar?] there are many factors that may enhance or decrease motivation within our everyday lives. However, the inclusion of music as a stimulant for study and learning is strongly debated. As there is merit to the theory that music does increase motivation to maintain a task for longer and even has the potential to motivate an individual to study further[grammar?][factual?]. According to a study from the University in Seattle in Athens, research into the effects of background music on cognitive function in general everyday situations have been inconclusive[factual?]. Due to the modern nature of music being readily available almost anywhere, its effects on everyday life are more difficult to measure. This is theorised to be the case because music has the capacity to be processed in many different ways[1].

However, this [what?] only relates to everyday activities like walking and athletics. Additionally, there have been recorded examples of cognitive response to music, such as levels of stress when listening to relaxing music[factual?]. However, this is a more targeted form of music, as relaxing music is designed to do as it is named, such as stimulating music intended to stimulate the individual listening. Therefore the process of listening to music has the capacity to affect an individual cognitively if it is specific as opposed to general music, but these findings only provide an outline to music effects on cognition, not music and its effect on study. With that said, the university of Seattle in Athens explored the effect of music on task performance, with a focus on study and the effect of music on study across cultures[factual?]. For this study three age groups were chosen: 12 year old students, 16 to 18 year old students and 20 year old students as this was intended to represent varying levels of comprehension and study levels for the experiment, [grammar?] Additionally the study was conducted with four additional groupings of USA, UK, Greek, and Japanese students to measure cultural differences as many of these cultures have a uniquely different musical history. Overall 150 students from each country participated with 50 from each age group selected, with an even split across genders so that there would be a reduced risk of disparity across participating countries due to gender[1].

This study revealed that music was more generally used situationally, even during study and for general memory retention participants recorded that they would rarely use music as they were aware that it would inhibit their cognitive processes, even minutely. Additionally participants reported that they would only listen to music when studying for the purposes of relaxing, rather than for additional cognitive assistance and if they found that the music impeded their concentration, they would turn it off[1]. This being said, the study found that the use of music helped alleviate stress which appeared to be a greater detriment to motivation for study and it’s utilisation for relaxation has been shown to improve motivation to study in students across cultures. With that said, the cultural findings revealed that Western cultures were more likely to listen to music than eastern cultures and more so the acceptance of music as a study aid appears to be more of a cultural aspect for many Western cultures[factual?].

What is the difference in motivation to study with and without music?[edit | edit source]

With the previous points in mind , there is some merit to question whether it is optimal to use music during study as there is clear evidence that it has the capacity to distract someone from their task. However, using the same article it addresses this point by outlining other studies that have concluded that study with background music has been beneficial for students, examples include students with special needs were found to benefit from background music being introduced into the classroom. As a point of note, the use of music for motivational aid with students with special needs has proven to be measurably beneficial as it improves attention and mood in the classroom setting[1]. However, when this study was introduced to mainstream classrooms there were more mixed results as reading comprehension was not negatively affected, but some classes were negatively affected by the background music. Therefore, much of what has been studied cannot be directly generalised.[factual?]

In an analysis into academic achievement of the students who listen to music while studying, from Gaziosmanpasa University in Turkey, there was a greater emphasis on outlining that there is no direct answer to whether listening to music inhibits learning or facilitates it, rather learning through music is affected by many variables[2]. As inferred earlier, mainstream classrooms reported mixed results with some classes benefiting from background music, while some classes being distracted by it. Which leads the point that neither argument is generalisable, rather that there are multiple variables that also need to be considered to form a fully educated response. In the subsequent study by Gaziosmanpasa University, they found that study music that was tailored to the student, rather than a large classroom setting had multiple positive effects including alleviation of boredom, improved rate of relaxation and improved concentration and motivation to maintain a study pattern[2]. This infers that the use of background music has to be something that the listener would generally listen to in order for it to not become a distraction. The study also found that in mainstream classes there was a far better result when students were allowed to study accompanied by music of their preference which implies merit to individual study with music as a motivating addition. If there is a motivation to learn then the addition of music has shown to only have positive results, while students with little to no motivation to learn or study have resulted in mixed responses to music stimulus[factual?]. However, conclusively there needs to be an understanding of the factors that impede internal motivation to study to benefit from it the most.

What else affects quality of study and motivation to study other than music?[edit | edit source]

Research has found that there are multiple measurable variables that affect an individual’s study pattern and motivation to study[3]. As this chapter is dedicated to music and its effect on motivation to study the main variables that will be focused on will be related to areas surrounding listening to music and study. First, a strong variable is motivation itself as according to the study by Gaziosmanpasa University, students with intrinsic motivation to achieve are able to study with background music and report no negative effects to attention, comprehension or motivation. What’s more, the motivation to study accompanied by music provides incentive to study and as a result greatly improves rates of motivation[2].

Opposingly, individuals with a reduced sense of motivation towards study will report higher levels of distraction from all forms of background noise, including background music. Therefore intention to study and motivation to study must be evident as a variable in order to positively benefit from background music accompaniment. Secondly, in a study by Xi'an Jiaotong University it was found individuals who were more extraverted were less likely to be distracted by the sounds of background music while studying. This study found that extraverts were more well versed in drowning out the sounds of background noise or otherwise diverting focus away from said sounds better than introverts[4]. Introverts were found to be more aware of background noise and had greater difficulty drowning it out. As a variable it is important to consider, however in terms of background noise. People often choose to listen to music and therefore elicits some exemption as the individual may be more readily able to avoid being distracted by it, independent of whether they are more introverted or extraverted[4].

Paragraph summary
  • Background music has been shown to unconsciously affect cognition both positively and negatively.
  • Music can impede study as a distraction in both classroom and individual settings, but also has the potential to benefit study if the music is tailored to the learner.
  • Many variables affect motivation and levels of study, motivation to study greatly impacts the affect of music while studying.
Interior of the University of Texas at Arlington Library
Methods of study have changed throughout time to suit the student in terms of both convenience and efficiency.

What forms of music can positively affect study progression?[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

What effects does various kinds of music have on study and motivation?[edit | edit source]

There is potential for music to have a positive effect on study and motivation to learn, however it is important to understand that this statement is not generalised to all music. Some music has a better effect on attention and motivation as well as some music having the potential to purely distract the listener. One of the main factors in whether music can motivate or distract is it's tempo, [grammar?] anything faster than 4/4 will become distracting to the listener as it is too fast to ignore as general ambience, while slower music can become integrated into the background sounds of the room[5].

Another factor is content, as music that contains singing can be more distracting as the human brain is hardwired to detect voices[factual?]. The music's intensity has a strong effect as well as music that falls into heavy metal and rock are genres that carry a lot of tonal intensity and have the potential to distract it's listeners rather than stimulate their attention towards study[factual?]. A well known example of music that has been designed to motivate study is Lo-Fi, [grammar?] this is a genre of music where tempo, intensity and relative levels of distraction have been taken into account to create music that helps improve an individual's study experience. The music maintains a non-distracting level by staying at a tempo of 4/4, containing sounds that simulate background noise like rain, light traffic, and crowds to build an internal atmosphere that listeners can interpret as the environment around them rather than as music in their ears. To be more specific a study by the University of Bucharest explored the effect of progressive rock on motivation and motivation regarding personal goals. This study tested 63 Undergraduate students on their motivation regarding competition and personal goals and found that progressive music had the potential of being an important addition to increasing performance in a workplace setting due to its ability to increase personal motivation[6].

Translating these results across to the field of study, the potential still remains as progressive rock was found to increase goal setting motivation. In that regard, the use of this form of music has the potential to increase motivation to study, and more so to maintain study for longer periods of time. This study also found that progressive rock helped the students concentrate and learn better both in groups and alone, in part due to its ability to increase levels of aspiration to succeed in students[6]. To expand on this study, research by the Department of Psychology at Virginia Polytechnic looked into the effect of vocal and instrumental music on studying preference in students in order to specify what forms of music were beneficial to study. This study found that vocal music significantly disrupted performance of the participants compared to instrumental music[7]. This study also specified study preference as individuals who did not regularly listen to music were more easily disrupted by both forms of music whereas individuals who regularly listened to music only showed measurable disturbance when exposed to vocal music. What can be inferred from this study is that overall vocal music has a greater potential to distract an individual as opposed to instrumental which is more easily ignored by participants[7].

As a final addition to these studies, a study by De Montfort University looked at motivation towards sad music and how sad music affects motivation. In this study it was found that sad music negatively affected motivation, however it provided participants with rewarding emotional experiences, and aided in self reflection while greatly increasing relaxation[8]. With that said, this study outlined that the positive rewards of listening to sad music was only positive in individuals who were more likely to have healthy emotional coping strategies. While individuals who lacked these strategies were more likely to find exposure to sad music, maladaptive[8]. In regards to study, this research found that sad music can provide unique benefits when combined with study as this form of music makes the individual more reflective, aware of themselves and focused on singular tasks at hand. However, with that being said, if an individual lacks healthy coping strategies sad music will only be maladaptive for motivation, let alone motivation to study.

How does Lo-fi music fit into all this?[edit | edit source]

With everything stated about music and its effect on motivation so far, it is important to recognise where developments in music and study have led to. More commonly known as Lo-fi Hip-hop, this form of music has been designed and composed with the intention of being background music for study with a reduced risk of distraction. The term Lo-fi means Low-fidelity which is a term for sound and music imperfections that can be heard within the music. More commonly the music is based on jazz and blues, with soft brass and relatively low to no vocals[5]. As stated previously, music with little to no vocals and soft to minimal intensity show little to no effect on attention away from the task at hand[7]. Lo-fi is designed to be non-distracting while also incorporating techniques that benefit the listener in areas such as motivation to study, attention to the task at hand and relaxation as previously stated in this chapter[6].

However, Lo-fi also introduces further benefits that have not previously been stated. According to the Philosophy of Music Education Review, before Lo-fi people listened to classical music while doing academic based activities because it was believed to be “smart music” or music that makes you feel smart by listening to it[5]. In its development, Lo-fi was heavily inspired by Jazz and Blues, however it also incorporated piano, strings and wind instruments which were intended to make the listener feel smart when they listened to it. Lo-fi is designed to make the listener feel smart while they listen to it and as a result further encourage study and by extension motivation to study. Additionally, Lo-fi incorporates rhythm very carefully, according to Musicologist Judy Lochlead people interpret musical rhythm as movement[5]. With Lo-fi, it often incorporates a slow and steady beat that resembles hip-hop and remembering this idea of music being interpreted as motion, this steady beat gives listeners an audible drive forward to finishing a goal. Along with the consistency present in the rhythm, it helps build an unconscious motivation to maintain on the current goal. However, all this being said there are many forms of music that maintain a steady beat and incorporate strings and piano without vocals that could be used as background music for study. The popularity of Lo-fi is mostly due to it being targeted towards people under 25 who are considered the most likely to study regularly. As this form of music was carefully designed for study it also accounted for music preference as previously stated in this chapter and the music genre considered most popular among under 25 year olds was hip-hop. In that regard Lo-fi music may not be a universal form of study music due to its specificity however it is clear evidence that music can be designed for optimised study[5].

Paragraph Summary
  • Music like progressive rock have potential to positively affect motivation to study.
  • Sad music can be a useful aid to some forms of study as long as the individual is aware of its affects[grammar?] as it can cause negative declines in mood.
  • Lo-fi hip hop is a generally useful aid as study music since it has been designed to provide all the positive benefits of study music with a more reduced risk of distraction.

Implementing positive music theory for optimal study progression[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

The best way to use music for study and study patterns[edit | edit source]

Through the previous points it has become evident that music can be helpful as a study aid to not only motivate the listener, but also reduce stress and increase concentration in the listener. The next step is to explore how this knowledge can be used practically. Starting with a study by Uludag University that intended to implement musical aid into grammatical learning[9]. This study took two groups of elementary school students and used one group as the control. The study group were given grammatical lessons using music, the songs used contained verbs that were used to test the students. The results found that the students in the study group showed greater motivation to learn resulting in a greater level of grammatical development than the control group[9]. Though it is important to address that this form of study and music is slightly different in its form, it is still an effective teaching method that uses music to improve learning. The use of music gave the students an easier way to memorise the learning material and the addition of this learning being in the form of an engaging activity improved the students motivation to learn the contents. To relate back to the previous paragraphs, the use of music has the capacity to affect memory in useful ways[6]. Relating songs with study content improves recall in tests and improves the likelihood of that information being stored in long-term memory. More so this study reinforces that music is a motivating factor, its presence within fields of learning adds a more engaging addition to the materials being studied. It allows the individual to feel more engaged with the material and therefore more easily motivated to work on it. As another sidestep in the research, an article by Frontiers has explored the effects of learning music on other forms of study. This research found that individuals who learned an instrument or music in general had higher levels of success in other areas of study and that learning music had increased benefits on cognitive processes[10]. In terms of academic achievement, learning an instrument is a statistically successful way of improving cognitive processes and general academic achievement[10]. However, regarding listening to music and study it does not provide many measurable benefits but is another decent example of how music can positively affect cognitive ability. In terms of the best ways to use music for improved study, like in previous points it is important that the music isn’t intense, slower in tempo, contains little to no vocals and is preferred by the individual. Accounting for these variables will provide a form of music that will likely motivate and calm the listener in a way that will benefit their studies.

What forms of study work best with music?[edit | edit source]

Though it is also important to add what forms of music benefit most from musical accompaniment, as some forms of study require more concentration and therefore music would not fit[1] . In a general sense, previous studies have outlined that in classroom settings, lessons with importance of memorising aspects are positively affected by the addition of music. In terms of reading comprehension, this form has been stated to negatively affect students in classroom settings but positively affect them in individual study[1]. General individual study has been positively linked to improvement when accompanied by music and in most cases individual study has not been found to negatively affect comprehension when music is added[4]. However, during situations like tests or exams, the accompaniment of music has only been found to be distracting as the presence of multiple conflicting variables such as anxiety or nerves due to testing nature cause music to become a distraction. According to a study by Mersin University, music has been more commonly accepted as a teaching aid in study and learning in more recent years and there is a greater emphasis on learning with the help of music[11]. Partly because music is so readily available in the modern day and from a cultural standpoint music has a significant importance in many communities and peoples lives so integrating it into education appears as a positive step forward[2]. However, it is always important to state that like with forms of studying, certain study patterns and techniques work well on some people and not at all for others. Learning works best when tailored to the individual and research into this subject helps narrow down the technicality of the issue, and can be used to understand or develop individual techniques that will be more optimised for the individual[4].

What forms of study are impeded by the introduction of music?[edit | edit source]

As the final point in optimising study techniques, it is important to note when music may impede study. In terms of music and study the most obvious point is when music becomes a distraction as expanded upon in previous points. The potential music has to distract study progress is evident when considering the form of music that is being used. If music is too loud, fast, intense, vocal or even unappealing to the listener then they will become distracted by it[7]. Additionally, it may be an unconscious distraction and cause the individual’s concentration to slowly deteriorate over time, leading to periods of study where no information is retained[1]. In both classroom and individual studying settings the presence of distracting music becomes another variable for distraction and more so in individual study, having distracting music on leads the individual to multitask. In a study by the Virginia Commonwealth University, they looked into the effects of multitasking on distraction time and in terms of media distraction if music is distracting then the level of achievement and task completion decreases, while level of task fatigue increases despite that lack of progress[3]. Additionally, in relation to motivation to study, with multitasking distractions including music, motivation decreases at a far more significant rate than without music. However, this study also explains that individuals with a lesser or negative drive for task completion will also be more susceptible to distractions and multitasking than other individuals. While individuals with a higher or positive drive will be less susceptible to distractions[3]. Therefore, in a classroom setting any music needs to be generally acceptable for all students so that none of the students have the potential to be distracted. To be more specific about what forms of study would be impeded by the introduction of music, the most common answer is tests because full attention should be provided for them. Other than tests, most forms of study benefit from non-distracting background music.

Paragraph Summary
  • Use music while studying when you want to relax and concentrate.
  • If you want to memorise study content, a useful way to do that is through associating it with the music you are listening to.
  • Individual study is an area of study that benefits the most from the inclusion of music.
  • Classroom settings are more difficult to implement music into as there are multiple cognitions and some of them may be more susceptible to distraction than others.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

In conclusion music has the capacity to have a profound effect on motivation to study. However, it is important to consider its potential as a distraction, since there is still evidence to support that its presence can negatively affect motivation to study. Though this can be mitigated when there is an understanding of the variables that influence an individuals[grammar?] potential to be distracted by background music. Additionally, in more recent years there have been positive findings regarding study music. More so [grammar?] there are even forms of music that have been tailored to reduce distraction and increase relaxation, attention and motivation while studying. Therefore the use of music has potential to benefit motivation for study in many ways as long as individuals are aware of what kinds of music help and what music will only distract in a studying scenario. Finally, with the understanding that some music can benefit study it can be advantageous to optimise learning with it, therefore knowing how to optimise motivation and learning through music during study has great potential. As long as the use of music doesn't cross into multi-tasking or variables that would cause distraction[grammar?].

There is great potential to further understand music's affect[grammar?] on learning as most research has gone into understanding whether it causes a distraction or if it can be drowned out. Therefore further focus should go towards forms of music and their affect[grammar?] on learning and comprehension so that there can be greater improvements to the quality of learning in both classrooms and areas of independent learning.

In practice, using music during study can be beneficial as it has been proven to relax the individual, increase their attention to their immediate situation and prolong their motivation on a single task for longer durations of time. However, it is equally important to be aware that music can be a form of distraction from a main task and should be used in moderation and consideration of the speed of the music as well as the intensity of the sounds in it.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Amable, J. (2019, January 30). Chill Beats to Study/Relax to. Why is Lo-Fi Hip-Hop so Conducive to Concentration? Arts and Culture. (https://daily.jstor.org/chill-beats-to-study-relax-to/)

Anastasia Kotsopoulou, S. H. (2010). The perceived impact of playing music while studying: age and cultural differences. Educational studies, 431-440. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03055690903424774)

Charles Calderwood, P. L. (2014). What else do college students “do” while studying? An investigation of multitasking. Computers & Education, 19-29. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0360131514000384)

Helen J.Crawford, C. M. (1994). Effects of vocal and instrumental music on visuospatial and verbal performance as moderated by studying preference and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 237-245. (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01991/full)

Koca, S. (2012). The Pre-School Teacher Candidate's Metaphorical Thinking About the Concept of Music Learning. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1485-1489. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042812025839)

L.Gilroy, S. (2001). The effects of background music on word processed writing. Computers in Human Behavior, 141-148. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0747563200000431)

Mihaela Chraif, L. M. (2014). The Influence of Progressive Rock Music on Motivation Regarding Personal Goals, Motivation Regarding Competition and Level of Aspiration on Young Students in Psychology. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 847-851. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042814024574)

Mingming Deng, F. W. (2020). Impact of background music on reaction test and visual pursuit test performance of introverts and extraverts. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 102976. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169814119305645)

Sarah Benz, R. S. (2016). Music Makes the World Go Round: The Impact of Musical Training on Non-musical Cognitive Functions—A Review. Frontiers in Psychology, 1-5. (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.02023/full)

Umuzdas, S. (2015). An analysis of the academic achievement of the students who listen to music while studying. Educational research and reviews, 728-732. (https://academicjournals.org/journal/ERR/article-full-text-pdf/86CEA3D51410.pdf)

Tol, A. J. (2016). The appeal of sad music: A brief overview of current directions in research on motivations for listening to sad music. Arts in Psychotherapy, 44-49.(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019745561630082X)

Zehra Ezgi Kara, A. S. (2013). The Effectiveness of Music in Grammar Teaching on the Motivation and Success of the Students at Preparatory School at Uludağ University. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 106(4), 2739-2745. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813049379)

External links[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Anastasia Kotsopoulou, S. H. (2010). The perceived impact of playing music while studying: age and cultural differences. Educational studies, 431-440.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Umuzdas, S. (2015). An analysis of the academic achievement of the students who listen to music while studying. Educational research and reviews, 728-732.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Charles Calderwood, P. L. (2014). What else do college students “do” while studying? An investigation of multitasking. ''Computers & Education'', 19-29.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Mingming Deng, F. W. (2020). Impact of background music on reaction test and visual pursuit test performance of introverts and extraverts. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 102976.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Amable, J. (2019, January 30). Chill Beats to Study/Relax to. Why is Lo-Fi Hip-Hop so Conducive to Concentration? ''Arts and Culture''.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Mihaela Chraif, L. M. (2014). The Influence of Progressive Rock Music on Motivation Regarding Personal Goals, Motivation Regarding Competition and Level of Aspiration on Young Students in Psychology. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 847-851.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Helen J.Crawford, C. M. (1994). Effects of vocal and instrumental music on visuospatial and verbal performance as moderated by studying preference and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 237-245.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tol, A. J. (2016). The appeal of sad music: A brief overview of current directions in research on motivations for listening to sad music. Arts in Psychotherapy, 44-49.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Zehra Ezgi Kara, A. S. (2013). The Effectiveness of Music in Grammar Teaching on the Motivation and Success of the Students at Preparatory School at Uludağ University. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 106(4), 2739-2745.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sarah Benz, R. S. (2016). Music Makes the World Go Round: The Impact of Musical Training on Non-musical Cognitive Functions—A Review. ''Frontiers in Psychology'', 1-5.  
  11. Koca, S. (2012). The Pre-School Teacher Candidate's Metaphorical Thinking About the Concept of Music Learning. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1485-1489.