Spotify is all us college students listen to these days. We listen to it when we are bored, when we are hanging out with our friends, when we are walking to class, and when we study. There are so many pre-made Spotify playlists that are made for people to listen to while they are studying, such as these: *Insert pics*. I listen to music whenever i am studying for an exam because I feel like it keeps me focused and doesn’t get me stressed. But now I wonder, is studying with music on really beneficial? Or is it hurting my studying?
In 2012, the University of Wales conducted a study to test this question . They did this by giving students a list of items to remember in a certain order, while playing different music in the background for each student, and some with no background sound at all. There were five different scenarios given. The scenario was given with no background music, complete silence. In the next scenario, a person repeated the word “three” over and over throughout the task. Another scenario, people were repeating a bunch of short words repetitively during the task. Another background noise was with a song that the students enjoyed (they got to choose the song), while the next scenario was with music that they didn’t like.
Although these results did not find much of a difference between the test scores of the students that listened to enjoyable and not enjoyable music, there were some interesting results. They realized that just having any music on in the background, resulted in a lower test score. They said that any type of music is just as bad as any background noise, such as talking or conversation. They believe that any music is a distraction to studying and will not benefit the student in any way.
Here it describes two more studies that were done. The first study was done at the University of Maryland in 2013 to test the same question. They went about this task by having 32 students take a math quiz, but with different background sounds. They did not just test no music v. music, they also tested with songs of low and high intensity. Their results were similar to the results at the University of Wales. They found that any background music was a distraction to the working student. The grades of the students with no background music playing, scored the highest.
In contrast to these first two studies I have mentioned above, this next study in France begged to differ with their results. This was a much larger test group that consisted of 249 students. This study had their participants watch a lecture, some while listening to music in the background, some with none. These results happened to find that the group of people who had music playing achieved a higher score than those who observed the lecture with no background sound.
This website made some general conclusions from these two studies (University of Maryland study and the France study). They saw that fast paced music or songs with a lot of lyrics were distracting to those trying to read or do anything that involved learning something new. They also concluded that it keeps the student motivated and lessens their anxiety.
There are mixed results from all of these studies, but it also all depends on the constant variable which is each individuals normal ability to focus and study. There is no 100% clear answer here, so we can never know for sure; it could be a personal preference. These studies did not specifically choose their participants, it was chance/ random.