*WINNER* Background Music and Reading Comprehension: Musical Training Predicts Reading Comprehension Scores


  • Rachel Pearson


Research is split on background music’s impact on cognitive functioning. Previous research has shown that background music has negative effects on cognitive performance, specifically in the areas of reading comprehension (Chou, 2010; Kämpfe et al., 2011; Patston & Tippett 2011). Musicians have been shown to perform worse on reading comprehension in the presence of music, but with an advantage still present over non-musicians (Patston & Tippett 2011). The current study aimed to examine the effect of background music of different emotions on reading comprehension. Participants attended an experimental session where background conditions (silence or happy, sad, or scary music) while reading a passage were randomly assigned. Musical training and music emotion recognition scores were examined as covariates. Alexithymia was also measured using a scale created by Preece, Becerra, Robinson, Dandy, and Allan (2018). Preliminary analyses found that musical training was a significant predictor of reading comprehension regardless of background condition. Also, regardless of condition, musically trained participants had significantly higher reading comprehension scores than those with no musical training. The preliminary data indicates that the emotion of a piece of background music has no effect on participants’ ability to comprehend written information. As previous research has shown, musical training is a significant predictor of reading comprehension as musically trained participants did have higher reading comprehension scores than participants with no musical training regardless of background condition. As these results are from preliminary data, further collection of data may yield significant results for other comparisons.






Education-Counseling and Psychology