The Effects of Background Music Style on Mathematical Computation and Reading Comprehension

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An-Che Chen
Chen-Shun Wen


Due to the increasing popularity of personal digital devices, many students listen to music while they study. It is however a controversial issue whether music listening is helpful to study performance. This study investigates the effects of different types of background music on study performance among college students through lab experiments. Two major categories of study activities - reading comprehension and mathematical computation - were examined for four different treatments of background music style (i.e., soft music, rock music, heavy metal music, and no music). For each student subject, objective measures, such as test scores and heart rates, were recorded for all conditions of the experiment design. Subjective measures concerning treatment evaluations along with personal preference and behaviours on music listening were instrumented in the individual interviews after the experiments. Data analysis on the objective measures indicates that neither test scores nor heart rates of reading comprehension and mathematic computation for different styles of background music are with statistical significance. However, significant gender differences were found and the influences were distinct for the two study activities tested. By further cross-referencing with the subjective measures, our results suggest that, for a better studying performance, college students may choose to listen to background music with preferred music for reading activities but non-preferred music for mathematic computation.


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How to Cite
Chen, A.-C., & Wen, C.-S. (2015). The Effects of Background Music Style on Mathematical Computation and Reading Comprehension. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, 3(12). Retrieved from


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