Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Geeta Shivde, Ph.D.

Committee Member

V. K. Kumar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Julian Azorlosa, Ph.D.


Previous research studying the effects of background music on cognition have been inconsistent in how the specific music stimuli were chosen, as well as the specific cognitive tasks used. In the present study, a survey of undergraduates demonstrated that research in this area should use music stimuli and cognitive tasks that are more ecologically valid. An experiment informed by the survey results shows few differences in students’ performance on executive function and abstract reasoning tasks when listening to self-selected music, randomly selected music or silence. The results of this study point to possible improvements in methodologies that can strengthen the conclusions in this field of research going forward.