Thursday, May 27, 2010

What's so special about Mozart?

The book, Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, holds in chapter 2 a look into "The Mozart Effect." I found this chapter particularly interesting because, through time and repetition, I too became a firm believer in this myth. The Mozart Effect developed when the pseudoscientific industry utilized the positive effect of classical music on spatial reasoning by broadening the effects to include the ability to improve the intelligence of children, unlocking one's creative spirit, and healing one's body.
Steele refutes this theory by referencing a few follow up experiments done after Rauscher and Shaw's initial one. He spoke about an experiment done by Carstens and colleagues in 1995 where they had students listen to the Mozart sonata and then answer 64 multiple choice questions from the Minnesota Paper Form Board Test. Carstens found no difference between the Mozart group and a control group who meditated in silence. He also referenced a second study done by Newman and colleagues where they increased the number of participants to increase the chances of finding a significant effect, yet they still found none. He concludes by talking about his own experiment where he too did not
find a Mozart effect.
I found this chapter interesting because I'm very interested in music and am aware of its ability to influence our moods and behaviors. Personally, there's nothing better than relaxing after a long and stressful day and melting away to the sounds of Bob Dylan. When I first heard of this "Mozart effect" I immediately believed it (Which is strange because I'm normally very skeptical), and thought that when I had children of my own I would start them off with some Mozart and other classical tunes. I found the results of Steele's research very informative. He concluded that people who listened to Mozart did just about the same if not worse than people who meditated in silence and those who listened to other music. Although the Mozart effect turned out to be nonexistent, there was an important lesson learned. This chapter shows how important the scientific method is when dealing with issues in psychology. It was through replication of the experiment that we learned that an effect doesn't exist, and we can confidently throw the Mozart effect theory out the window.

-Clarie-Ann Henriques

Lawson, Timothy J. Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal.
Uppersaddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. , 2007. Print.


  1. I love to listen to instrumental music while I study, it helps me concentrate. I was really hoping the Mozart Affect was true though.

  2. Wow!!! This was rather interesting. Since all along I did believe that the Mozart Affect was valid... I even let my children listen to the videos; furthermore, thinking it had an educational benefit.