Effects of Music and Studying

Are you a student that likes to listen to music while studying? If you take a stroll through the library, you will see many students with their headphones in. Although some may think it is beneficial, others may find it distracting to listen to music while studying and or doing work. So the question is, does listening to music while studying provide any benefit?

To figure this out I began my search for experiments that involved activities comparing sound and no sound. I then came across a study done at the University of Whales on how background music affects students ability to remember items in a specific order. The study involved 25 students between the ages of 18 and 30. They controlled for several confounding variables such as hearing, vision and language through a screening process. They also did not include those who listed their favorite type of music as ‘thrash metal’.

The study tested the student’s abilities to remember a series of consonants presented through a power point slide while being exposed to different types of sound variations. The different types of sound variations included a quiet environment, a ‘steady state’ speech where the number three was repeated, a ‘changing state’ speech where random numbers between one and nine were repeated, liked music and lastly disliked music. In my opinion having all five of these different states is very useful data. Cause not only will it provide data on whether or not music makes a difference, it will show whether having background noise could be potentially beneficial or not.

The results you may find surprising if you personally prefer studying acp1731-fig-0001with music. The study found that the ‘steady state’ speech and the quiet environment produced statistically higher results when compared to the other three groups. Meaning that under those two environments they were able to recall more during the testing.

Does this mean that you should stop listening to music while studying? Not exactly. Until more research is done and meta-analyses are done of all experiments it is quite unsure what the answer is. Another important fact to consider in this research is the effect of music with lyrics and types of music such as classical which is all instrumental based.

In a study conducted at the University of Maryland they used a sample of 32 students between the age of 20 to 41. Of the twenty-five were females and seven were males which to me does not seem like a good representation in my opinion. They used a song that called “Not Ready to Die,” a heavy rock song, and a classical piano song called “Morning Light.”

The experiment called for the students to perform cognitive tests under five conditions. The control being no music and the other being the heavy rock song and classical song played at both low and high intensity. In conclusion the study found that performance was much better in silence than any of the four music conditions (p<.05). Surprisingly to me however, there was no significant difference between the two songs in the loud music condition (p=.582). This is most likely because loud music should not be used when studying or performing tests.

Overall I still findcover this toping very intriguing. Although I will most likely continue to study in complete silence. I am interested to see if in further testing will find that certain types of music can help benefit my learning. I believe that a lot of testing is required to determine a true result on this topic due to the many potential confounding variables at play such as IQ. Only experimentation will tell us what the true answer is.


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3 thoughts on “Effects of Music and Studying

  1. Corbin Kennedy Miller

    This is a really interesting topic because I think we can all agree that we all find ourselves listening to music once and a while when we are studying. Through personal experience, I feel that any form of orchestral music is a nice way to listen to music, without being too distracted by the lyrics or anything distracting like that. There’s actually a lot of research that went into this topic, that can be found through multiple studies, like this link. http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/762/the-impact-of-listening-to-music-on-cognitive-performance

  2. Mackenzie French

    I love to listen to music while studying, so I was interested in reading your blog post. I find that it shuts the outside world out and I am able to get into this “zone” of learning and doing my work. I even have a certain playlist on my Spotify called “study”. I have found that I don’t really even fully listen to the music while working, since I am more focused on my work, but the fact that it is in the background makes me more comfortable. Especially when studying in areas with lots going on, like the commons or HUB for example, putting my headphones in to play music helps block everything out. I wish there were more studies on this because I am interested to see if this multitasking environment is actually beneficial or not.

  3. Daniel J Lehecka

    Whenever I listen to music with lyrics while trying to do something academic, I find it basically impossible to focus. My brain is trying to process the lyrics (even if I know them by heart) and it muddles my thought towards the subject. But I find that listening to instrumental music at a low-medium sound level really helps with my concentration. It drowns out background noise that might distract me otherwise, and the nice melody helps me calm down. I do agree with your conclusion that more studies need to be done, because the one you linked is not super convincing. Another thing I find helpful is not using headphones to listen to the music, because that leads me to other distractions and I tend to notice that they’re there quite often. Just something to think about.

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