Music Tempo & Task Performance
Grade Level: 11th - 12th; Type: Life Science
This project will assess the affect of music on work performance. Given a set of tasks the subjects will perform these tasks while listening to different tempos of music.
- How does music tempo affect the following:
- Memory tasks
- Repetitive tasks
- Spatial tasks
- Mental rotation
Music can elicit both emotional and physical responses. When you hear a fast beat you tend to tap your foot to the music. Slow songs can relax while fast songs arouse. In this experiment we will examine the effects of music tempo on task performance. By examining these effects we can determine if fast tempo music makes us work faster and more efficiently.
- Music of various tempos
- Stop watch/Timer
The specifics of this experiment should be based on your background research. The following is an example for measuring spatial task performance.
- Choose your subjects: You will need at least 15 subjects. Choose a single gender and age group. For example 16-18 year old females.
- Choose your music: Find songs within the same genre without words. Stay away from harsh music such as heavy metal.
- Assign 5 subjects to the control group. This group will perform the task with no music.
- Assign 5 subjects to the slow tempo music group and the other 5 to the fast tempo music group.
- Design your test. For spatial tasks you can use the mental rotation task (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Mental rotation tests to examine visual perception. In this task the subject must mentally manipulate the object in order to answer the questions. The first image (left) shows 4 shape configurations. The subject must determine which block configurations are the same when rotated. The second image (right) is a diagram of a piece of paper folded then cut. The subject must determine what this piece of paper will look like (A-E) once it is unfolded.
- Have the subjects perform the task.
- Set a time limit.
- Scores are based on the number answered correctly.
- Record your data in a chart (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Data chart example.
Effects of music
- Sound perception
- Emotional responses
- Physical responses
- Links to memory
- Cooper, L. A. (1975). Mental rotation of random two-dimensional shapes. Cognitive Psychology, 7, 20-43.
- Shepard, R.N. & Metzler, J. (1971). Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects. Science, 171, 701-703.
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.