Student Research Projects

The Effects of Musical Stimulation on Recall in College Students

Student Taylor Harding, ‘13
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology
Course PSYCH 480: Original Research Project in Psychology


It is common to see college students wearing headphones while they do their homework. However, it seems likely that music is a distraction. This research examines whether music stimulation helps a student’s performance, specifically on the question of recall. I investigated whether students are able to memorize and recall information while dealing with a distraction. Participants were asked to complete a word recall test and an object memory test while listening to music with lyrics, music without lyrics, or no music at all. Each test required two minutes of memorizing while listening to music or no music. Once the two minutes expired, participants were given another two minutes to recall the information on paper. These two tests measure whether a student is capable of recalling information in a certain amount of time with or without a distraction and whether music does affect memory. 40 students at Virginia Wesleyan College participated. Results suggest that there was no significance. Students who were asked to complete the two memory tests with a distraction did just as well as those who were asked to complete the study without distraction. While most people would expect to find a significant difference between the three control groups, the results were interesting in that all three situations do not affect a student’s performance when completing an assignment. Even though the results suggest no significance, this study can be used to influence the development of other questions that deal with memory and whether music or other distractions hinder performance in the classroom or other areas in life.