Lab Report

PSYC2022 Lab Report Trimester 1

Title

To determine the relationship between music and mood and working memory performance

Abstract

The key aim of this study is to determine the effect of the music on the mood resulting in the working memory performance. For this, a working memory task known as the operation span task (OSPAN) is used to test. In this, a math problem is asked followed by the reading of a letter in a series.

After the presentation of the math problems and letters, it was asked to the participants to recall the letters followed by each operation.

This (OSPAN) task was performed before and after listening three types of songs including positive song (Mozart’s Toy Symphony), a negative song (Beethoven’s symphony number 3), or a neutral song (Claude Debussy, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun). From the study, it is found that

Introduction

Mood can be defined as the psychological state of the mind that make the individual feel different emotions including sad, happy, energetic, and lazy (Palmiero et al., 2015). In the views of Borella et al. (2014), mood states have a significant impact on cognitive control in relation to thinking and acting.

Working memory can be defined as the set of mental processes that hold the limited information in a temporarily accessible state in the service of cognition (Cowan, Elliott, et al., 2005, p. 42).

From the study of Västfjäll (2002), it can be revealed that music has a power to alter the moods and emotions of people. The study of Borbely-Ipkovich et al. (2014) reveals that understanding of the mood impact on the cognitive control can be effective to understand the emotion regulation.

In the study of Bottiroli et al. (2014), it is found that positive mood state helps the individual to recall more words as compared to the negative mood state. In the study of García et al. (2012), it is recognized that the positive mood has negative impact on the working memory through increase in spread of activation of items in working memory. If the activation becomes more diffused,

it can negatively impact the working memory of the individual due to difficulty in retrieving the items from the memory. However, Seinfeld et al. (2013) posited that there is no significant impact of positive mood on the performance in terms of working memory.

On the other hand, mood has been shown to have an effect on a variety of cognitive tasks including working memory (Martin & Kerns, 2011). Often in these experiments, mood is manipulated by showing participants videos and music (Västfjäll, 2002).

Some of the studies have investigated the impact of mood on cognitive control in form of working memory performance while some of the studies have highlighted the effect of the music on mood.

But this study reflects the impact of music on mood resulting in effect on working memory performance.  Previous studies have not focused on direct investigation of effects of music on mood and on working memory performance.

At the same time, previous studies have focused on only small sample sizes and provided inconsistent evidence to the effect of music on mood and impact of mood on memory performance. This study overcomes all these limitations and provides the valid and reliable research outcomes.

The testing of the hypotheses related to relationship between music, mood and working memory performance can be significant for the organizations to use the music to change the mood of the employees and enhance their performance level.

This study aims to determine whether the music manipulates the mood and how it changes the working memory performance. For this the following hypotheses can be drawn to test and prove:

  • Null hypothesis 1: There is no significant relationship between the music and mood changes
  • Alternative hypothesis 1: There is a significant relationship between the music and mood changes and the working memory performance.
  • Null hypothesis 2: There is no significant relationship between the music and the working memory performance.
  • Alternative hypothesis 2: There is a significant relationship between the music and the working memory performance.

Method & Results

Participants

Participants were 87 second year psychology students from the Australian College of Applied Psychology. Twenty-two participants did not obtain more than 85% on the mathematics portion of the experiment and so were excluded from the data set. The participant characteristics of the remaining 65 participants are given in Table 1.

Table 1

Participant Characteristics (Gender and Age (In Years) by Music Condition.

#females18-25y26-35y36-45y46-55y
Positive (n = 27)2281162
Negative (n = 16)127612
Neutral (n = 22)1410534

Materials

To assess working memory, participants completed an operation span task (OSPAN, Conway et al., 2005). Participants were presented a visual sequence of letters ranging from 3-7 letters that needed to be recalled at the end.

Each letter in the sequence was preceded by a math problem (“(8*2) – 8 = ?”) followed by a proposed solution (e.g. “9″) and participants decided whether the proposed solution was correct or not. Letter recall was tested by asking participants to select letters from a provided letter matrix.

Participants were asked to record their OSPAN absolute score, which was calculated based on the total number of sequences recalled correctly in their entirety. The highest possible OSPAN score was 75. Participants also recalled their math error score.

Each participant first completed a total of 22 practice trials with math and letter recall elements first separated and then combined to ensure familiarity with the task. There were then 15 experimental trials with 3 repetitions of 5 set sizes. The order of the set sizes was randomly determined.

To measure affect, participants completed the short form of the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS-SF; Watson, Clark, &Tellegen, 1988).

Participants were given a list of 20 emotions and were asked to indicate the extent to which they were experiencing that emotion on a 5-point Likert scale from 1 = ‘Very slightly or not at all’ to 5 = ‘Extremely.

Procedure

Participants completed the experiment in their allocated tutorial time. Participants first completed the PANAS followed by the OSPAN. Participants then listened to one of three songs.

The song they listened to depended on the tutorial to which they were allocated.Participants either listened to a positive song (Mozart’s Toy Symphony), a negative song (Beethoven’s symphony number 3), or a neutral song (Claude Debussy, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun).

Songs were selected based on their use in previous emotion induction experiments (Västfjäll, 2002). All songs were from the same genre (classical) to avoid a confound of genre or an influence of lyrics.

After participants listened to the songs, they were asked to complete the PANAS again, followed by the OSPAN task. Participants then recorded their responses and provided demographic information (age and gender).

Results

The means and standard deviations for the PANAS-SF and OSPAN at each time point for each music condition are presented in Table 2. Two 2 (time 1, time 2) by 3 (positive, negative, neutral) mixed design ANOVAs were conducted to examine the effect of music on mood induction.

The type of music played had no effect on positive affect from time 1 to time 2 (F (2, 63) = 0.20, p = .821) nor on negative affect between time 1 and 2 (F (2, 63) = 0.09, p = .918).

There was also no overall change in either positive (F (1, 63) = 1.45, p = .233) or negative (F (1, 63) = 0.81, p = .373) affect between the two time points ignoring the effect of group.

A 2 (time 1, time 2) by 3 (positive, negative, neutral) mixed design ANOVA was conducted to investigate the effect of music on OSPAN score. Again, there was no significant effect of group on OSPAN score from time 1 to time 2 (F (2, 63) = 0.54, p = .588), nor was there an overall change from time 1 to time 2, ignoring the grouping variable (F (1, 63) = 0.26, p = .615).

Time1Time 2
Positive AffectNegative AffectOSPANPositive

Affect

Negative AffectOSPAN
Positive28.11 (7.55)15.07 (4.95)44.96 (15.48)26.11 (8.16)14.54 (5.55)47.35 (15.43)
Negative25.81 (6.95)16.81 (7.49)54.05 (12.71)25.38 (11.41)16.38 (7.31)52.10 (14.81)
Neutral26.73 (7.62)15.50 (6.77)45.86 (12.56)25.50 (8.69)14.32 (6.27)48.22 (13.49)

Table 2

Means (Standard Deviations) of PANAS and OSPAN from Time 1 to Time 2 for Each Music Condition. 

Discussion

There is no significant relationship between music and mood and working memory performance.

From the results, it can be discussed that there is no significant impact of the music on positive affect or negative affect from time 1 to time 2 on mood showing from the p-value greater than 0.05 accepting the null hypothesis 1. So, there is no effective of positive or negative music on the mood induction of the individuals from time 1 to time 2.

At the same time, from the results related to the effect of music on OSPAN score, it can also be discussed that there is no impact of music on the OSPAN score means there is no effect of music on the working memory performance. The p-values from Anova test are greater than the significance value of 0.05 means the null hypothesis cannot be rejected.

So, it can be discussed that there is no relationship between music and working memory performance. These interpretations of the results are also supported by the findings of Seinfeld et al. (2013) that the music does not have any influence on the mood induction and working memory performance.

Supporting to these findings, Borella et al. (2014) depicted that mood cannot be changed with the help of music. At the same time, there is no or insignificant impact of the music on working memory performance of the individual.

Apart from this, the study of García et al. (2012) provides contradictory results than this study by revealing that there is  a negative impact of music on the working memory performance due to more activation of items in memory.

At the same time, the findings of Västfjäll, 2002 and Martin & Kerns, 2011 are also not consistent with the findings of this study as they stated that mood can change the working memory and can be manipulated though videos and music.

The finding is important because it can help to focus on other interventions besides the music to enhance the working memory performance and mood of people.

It is because it is majorly considered that the music has a significant impact on mood induction that cannot be relevant to make any music intervention for changing the mood and working memory performance.

The finding is also valuable to enhance the existing literature review and advances the scientific knowledge.

It can be helpful for the future researchers and scholars to support or review their findings. In addition, other demographic aspects like gender and age can be considered while presenting results to determine the impact of age and gender in perspective of music and mood.

This research is limited in terms of sample size as it is based on 87 participants but it limits the reliability and validity of the research outcomes. The future researchers can focus on large sample size to provide more generalized and valid research outcomes.

Apart from this, this study also limits in terms of choice of sample including second year psychology students from the Australian College of Applied Psychology.

The consideration of students from different streams and different colleges can make the study more valid and reliable. Apart from this, time points and tests can be increased to determine more valid research outcomes.

So overall, it can be concluded from this study that there is no significant impact of music on the mood induction and working memory performance.

References

Borbely-Ipkovich, E. M. O. K. E., Janacsek, K., Nemeth, D. E. Z. S. O., & Gonda, X. (2014). The effect of negative mood and major depressive episode on working memory and implicit learning. Neuropsychopharmacol. Hung16, 29-42.

Borella, E., Carretti, B., Grassi, M., Nucci, M., & Sciore, R. (2014). Are age-related differences between young and older adults in an affective working memory test sensitive to the music effects?. Frontiers in aging neuroscience6, 298.

Bottiroli, S., Rosi, A., Russo, R., Vecchi, T., & Cavallini, E. (2014). The cognitive effects of listening to background music on older adults: processing speed improves with upbeat music, while memory seems to benefit from both upbeat and downbeat music. Frontiers in aging neuroscience6, 284.

García, J. J. M., Iodice, R., Carro, J., Sánchez, J. A., Palmero, F., & Mateos, A. M. (2012). Improvement of autobiographic memory recovery by means of sad music in Alzheimer’s disease type dementia. Aging clinical and experimental research24(3), 227-232.

Martin, E. A. & Kerns, J. G. (2011). The influence of positive mood on different aspects of cognitive control. Cognition and Emotion, 25(2), 265-279.

Palmiero, M., Nori, R., Rogolino, C., D’Amico, S., & Piccardi, L. (2015). Situated navigational working memory: the role of positive mood. Cognitive processing16(1), 327-330.

Seinfeld, S., Figueroa, H., Ortiz-Gil, J., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2013). Effects of music learning and piano practice on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in older adults. Frontiers in Psychology4, 810.

Västfjäll, D. (2002). Emotion induction through music: A review of the musical mood induction procedure. Musicae Scientiae, 5, 173-211.

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