Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-10-2014




Tram Nguyen

Second Advisor

Dr. Jessica Grahn


The presence of music is a visceral part of the human experience and its influence on cognitive function is a growing area of research in psychology. In particular, perceptual properties of music (mood and arousal) have been shown to significantly affect performance. There has been minimal research in the field on the interaction of mood and arousal and their influence on attention, thus the purpose of this study. Fifty undergraduate students currently enrolled at the University of Western Ontario were recruited for this study. Given that music is a highly subjective experience, participants rated an assortment of music clips on their mood and arousal levels. The clips that participants rated highest and lowest on mood (positive and negative) and arousal (low and high) were chosen for use on the Posner cueing task. This visual attention task was either performed in silence or while listening to music clips as per their ratings. Results indicated that musical mood and musical arousal, independently of one another, had no significant effect on visual attention. Rather, a significant interaction between the two perceptual properties was observed. The fastest reaction times were recorded when participants listened to high arousal positive music and the longest reaction times were found when participants listened to high arousal negative music. Intermediate performance occurred when participants listened to low arousal negative music and low arousal positive music. Future studies should investigate whether the combined modulatory effects of musical mood and musical arousal generalize to other attentional paradigms.