One hundred Brooklyn College students participated in a research study testing the effect of tense music and mellow music on timed and untimed tests. The test aimed to see if there was any significance to how they affected comfort levels and anxiety. The study used methods based on previous research by Cassidy & Macdonald (2009) and Tsui & Mazzocco (2006). The participants were sent a google form to fill out. The first section of the form contained two links: one to either TextTwist 2 or TextTwist Unlimited, and a Google Drive MP3 link for a 3-minute loop of either the tense song (labeled “Background Music T”) or the mellow song (labeled “Background Music M”). After completing the game, participants proceeded to the next section of the form. They were asked to upload a screenshot of their results screen for proof, then complete a questionnaire rating their anxious feelings about the game. The results did not indicate any significant relationship between the respondents listening to tense and mellow music in both timed untimed tests on self-reported comfort levels(anxiety). However, individuals listening to mellow music outperformed the tense music respondents.
Its common knowledge that music and timed tasks can affect performance and anxiety. However, there isn’t much information on how these two can interact in helping to reduce or increase anxiety during these tasks. Understanding this can help provide new ways to reduce stress for students during exams or other task scenarios. The concepts being studied are anxiety and the impact of music and timed tasks on it. Anxiety can be described as stress and worriedness a person faces during tasks that, as a result, can potentially lead to poor performance. (MedlinePlus, 1998). In this experiment, we hypothesize that:
1The main effect of the timer being present; participants will have more anxiety when playing a word puzzle game.
2) The main effect of the different moods of music; participants will have less anxiety for serene music and more anxiety for tense music when playing a word puzzle game
3) There will be a significant interaction effect between the presence of a timer (timed, untimed) and the mood of music (serene, tense); participants listening to tense music will always end up having more anxiety than those listening to calm music regardless of a timed or untimed puzzle game.
4) Alternative hypothesis is mellow music does not have any effect at any effect and a person’s mood pre-test was the main driving force behind their anxiety regardless of whether the game was timed or not. Another alternative is that mellow music can increase anxiety but only during the timed game.
Most individuals feel anxious when confronted by a difficult situation at school, work, before making a significant decision, or when taking a test. Anxiety can help people cope by offering them a jolt of energy or allowing them to concentrate. However, anxiety can be persistent for people who suffer from anxiety disorders and can be overwhelming. It can make you sweat, cause your heart to race and feel restless and tight. It’s likely that it’s a natural reaction to stress and can sometimes be paralyzing (MedlinePlus, 1998).
Cassidy and Macdonald (2009) conducted experiments on self-selected music, and experimenter selected music on participants conducting tasks. They found out that those who chose their music were more relaxed and performed better than those who listened to the experimenter’s music. These results helped them conclude that the high arousal sounds of music chosen by the experimenter supported information distraction theories lowering performance. These results can help us understand that choosing the music ourselves can have certain effects. Therefore, we wanted to observe how the same effect would interact with a timed test.
Tsui & Mazzocco (2006) focused on anxiety and performance for math tests in gifted students. The tests found that students performed worse on the timed tests than the untimed ones. However, they found out that this was only significant when the timed test came before the untimed test. They concluded that while some results were significant if the students were given practice tests before the timed one, there was no difference between their performance and the untimed test alone. Findings from the research helps show that timed tasks can put more stress on people than untimed ones and that knowledge will help us test how music can interact with this.
The participants in this study were randomly recruited from social media and blackboard from the psychology department of Brooklyn College. There were (n=100) students for this study. The participants were not supervised by anyone and were not compensated for their work.
This study required the participants to have an internet connection and a working computer; the participants were instructed to go on to a website to run the experiment (APA). The participants were sent a google form to fill out. In the first section of the form contained two links: one to either TextTwist 2 or TextTwist Unlimited, and a Google Drive MP3 link for a 3-minute loop of either the tense song (labeled “Background Music T”) or the mellow song (labeled “Background Music M”).
After completing the game, participants proceeded to the next section of the form. They were asked to upload a screenshot of their results screen for proof, then complete a questionnaire rating their anxious feelings about the game (i.e., “I felt my heart rate increase playing this game,” “I would like to play this game again,” “I didn’t feel like I had enough time to complete this game,” “I had faith in my ability to complete this game,” etc.) on a Likert scale, 1 being “strongly disagree” and 7 being “strongly agree.” After completing the survey, they had to submit the form for evaluation.
This study used a between-subjects design; the participants were randomly selected from social media. The participants did not have the same experiment; each participant was instructed to complete the games they were randomly assigned. One being timed with the music looping in the background or unlimited with the music looping in the background. Some were assigned to having tense music in the background, and others were assigned to mellow music. The participants had to screenshot their progress after completing one round of the game. The participants were then asked to complete a questionnaire rating their anxious feelings about the game on a Likert scale, 1 being “strongly disagree,” and 7 being “strongly agree.” After completing the survey, they had to submit the form for evaluation.
The sum of each group’s anxiety report data was compiled and analyzed using a repeated-measures ANOVA and simple descriptive means using Ms. Excel 2016. There were two independent variables with two levels each. The first IV was the presence of a timer being timed or untimed. The second IV was the mood of the music being mellow or tense. The participants did not have the same experiment. The dependent variable was the participant’s self-reported mood.
Randomly selected respondents were n=100, with 40 males, 44 females, 9 non-binary, and 7 who preferred not to reveal their gender. The average age was 23yrs, with the range of age of participants between 15-51yrs.
The tables above show a simple analysis of the respondents’ data with mean averages. The tense music timed data, and the mellow music timed tests do not show any significant change.
Timed Tests comparison (Tense & Mellow music)
Respondents’ comfortability before and during the game on both data sets was 71%. Participants did not manage to find all numbers in both experiments. Music comfortability during the game was 57% for respondents listening to tense music and 71% for mellow music. This did not affect the averages for concentration (57% on both sets). However, only 38% preferred the test with tense music compared to 41% in the mellow music group. The average final score on tense music subjects was slightly lower (18005) compared to mellow music subjects (22047).
Untimed Tests comparison (Tense & Mellow music)
Respondent’s comfortability before the game was 71% and 57% for tense and mellow music, respectively. 9 % in the tense music managed to find all the words and only 5% in the mellow music. Music comfortability during the game was 57% for respondents listening to tense music and 71% for mellow music. Respondents in the tense music managed to finish the test faster than those in the mellow group. This did not affect the averages for concentration and comfortability during the game (57% on both sets). Music comfortability was 57% for tense music and 71% for mellow music. However, only 36% preferred the test with test music compared to 55% in the mellow music group. The average final score on tense music subjects was way lower (27916) compared to mellow music subjects (47667).
Two Way Anova Test
A two-way ANOVA was conducted in order to test our hypothesis
The results indicate no significant relationship between music mood and self-reported comfort levels. Also, there was no significant relationship between the presence of time limits and self-reported comfort levels. In addition, no significant interaction was observed between music mood and time limits.
The results indicated that our hypothesis was not supported. However, we got some interesting observations. Comfortability for respondents listening to tense music on the timed test was lower (57%) compared to 71% of those listening to mellow music. The mellow music respondents also performed slightly higher on average (22047) than the tense music respondents (22047).
Music comfortability was also lower (57%) than mellow music (71%). It was fascinating to note that the tense music respondent finished the game faster than those listening to mellow music. This was also replicated in music comfortability. However, the performance average for mellow music was almost double that of the tense music group. In addition, people listening to tense music were less likely to conduct the test music with the same background music than those in the mellow music group. The Anova tests did not show any significance between the IVs and DVs. However, there may exist some non-significant interactions according to the graph, which could be more significant if more data is collected.
Even though the results did not indicate any significance between the variables, some limitations may have played a part in the final results. This includes our limited sample of Brooklyn college students; in the future, it should be tested on a more extensive and more diverse sample size. In addition, the experiment was also not done in a controlled setting which can affect the way the participants took the test; they might’ve watched the video another time or even written down the test answer. We did not counterbalance either, which can affect the study. Also, the data’s randomness did not consider the different IQs of different participants could have resulted in a biased sample population. Further tests can be conducted in a controlled environment with better equipment that can access user anxiety and comfortability instead of relying on the user responses only. In a within-subjects factorial design can also be helpful in upcoming studies.
Cassidy, G., & Macdonald, R. (2009). The effects of music choice on task performance: A study of the impact of self-selected and experimenter-selected music on driving game performance and experience. Musicae Scientiae, 13(2), 357–386. https://doi.org/10.1177/102986490901300207
MedlinePlus. (1998, November 20). Anxiety. Medlineplus.gov. https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html#:~:text=Anxiety%20is%20a%20feeling%20of
Tsui, J. M., & Mazzocco, M. M. M. (2006). Effects of math anxiety and perfectionism on timed versus untimed math testing in mathematically gifted sixth graders. Roeper Review, 29(2), 132–139. https://doi.org/10.1080/02783190709554397