ICC student symposium 2013 at the Amsterdam University Colleg...
Some Mozart a day keeps the doctor away
While brainstorming on our group research project last week, we came across the 'Mozart effect', which was a social hype in the '90s. In their 1993 article in Nature, Rausher, Shaw & Ky found that after listening to Mozart's sonatas, subjects experienced a temporary increase in spatial intelligence. This phenomenon was soon dubbed the Mozart effect and suddenly extended in potential, when it was claimed to increase IQ and “actually make you smarter” as New York Times columnist Alex Ross wrote in 1994. All of this when spatial intelligence is only one of Gardners seven intelligences and is limited to spatial reasoning and puzzle solving.
Apart from being interested in the study itself, the public reaction to the results and, more importantly, to the media reporting on the article was fascinating, I thought. Recently there have been various incidents in which the impact of social media like Twitter or Facebook has been shown. A Dutch police officer, for example, has lost her job because of a tweet in which she called a Dutch political party ‘fascist’. The Mozart effect show that this impact is not new to us at all. Apart from just the claim that listening to Mozart would raise one’s IQ, it was suggested that having your children listen to Mozart would make them smarter. A whole brand called ‘The Mozart effect resource center’ was set up, selling Mozart’s music with names such as “Vol. 2 - Heal the Body”, aimed at “reducing mental and emotional stress” (for more, click here).
After looking into some more studies, the Mozart effect proved to be far for academically accepted, as you would have probably expected. Replications of the experiment often showed no IQ improvement whatsoever, not even an increase in spatial intelligence. Thompson, Schellenberg, & Husain, for example, suggest that “the Mozart effect may be an artificial consequence of the heightened arousal and mood rather than the music of Mozart per se” (2001). Conclusion, before blindly accepting results as controversial (or any results actually), we should check and double-check its validity, before drawing far-fetched conclusions.
For our research project, we have decided to look into a possible connection between music and learning. While we still have to decide if we want to test the Mozart effect itself, or just different music genres, we are very curious as to what our results will be. You will, of course, be notified about our results, and I will personally create the ideal playlist to enhance your learning, cure your depression and save your marriage.
Because music can do anything...