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Effects of Preference for Background Music on Cognitive Tasks

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
Benjamin Moore


This study investigated the issue of music as a distraction when listened to while simultaneously completing cognitive tasks. Literature on this topic has found that, for the most part, music is distracting during simultaneous task completion. The current study investigated this topic while also looking at a less explored issue, the effect of preference for the music that is listened to during a task. Two different cognitive tasks, the Stroop color naming test and a tracking task, were used in this study. These tasks were completed while listening to music that was selected by participants to be liked and disliked, along with a no-music condition. Differences of preference and overall differences of music compared to silence when completing tasks were the main focus of the study. Results were that disliked music was most distracting on one of the two tests and that silence produced the best results. Large differences between music conditions were not found, nor were significant overall differences between music and silence. This research has implications for students' study habits, workplace efficiency, and other settings where productivity is an issue.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.