Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Date of Graduation
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of Graduate Psychology
Michael D. Hall
Past research has heavily studied the impact of background music on long-term memory (LTM), but the reason for these effects have not been heavily investigated. It is possible that errors in LTM come from encoding issues in working memory (WM), especially when participants are in the presence of background music. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between background music and working memory capacity. Additionally, this investigation aimed to seek clarity on the factors that could be responsible for such influences, whether it be a boosting or hinderance to working memory capacity (WMC). Because of this, genre, genre preference, and years of music training were used as moderators to predict individual differences in WMC under different sound conditions. Participants completed the Backwards Digit Span Task (BDST) in the presence of background music (classical, jazz, and rock music) and rain sounds (used as a baseline condition). Performance in classical, jazz, and rock music conditions had higher scores than the rain condition; however classical music showed a significant positive difference compared to the baseline. The rock and jazz music conditions followed the same patterns as the classical. However, it was unclear if this was truly a boosting effect or a weak interference effect. When the spectral centroid, a measured acoustic measure that was also analyzed in relation to WMC, increased, performance on the task decreased, meaning that the quality of the music was a precursor to performance quality. In the presence of background music, WMC was suggested to be influenced by music training only in the rock condition where there seemed to be high alerting and high musical technicality. The listener specific qualities had no overall significant effect on WMC. This suggested that the effectiveness of music’s relationship on memory is heavily dependent on changes seen in musical aspects presented rather than individual differences in listeners, interrupting encoding.
Akesse, Dominique and Akesse, Ange-Dominique A., "An evaluation of distraction correlations from background music on working memory span" (2023). Masters Theses, 2020-current. 197.
Available for download on Friday, May 09, 2025