Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Stacy Birch
The purpose of this research was to assess the effects of lyrical and non-lyrical music on reading comprehension in college students, especially when tempo was taken into consideration. There were several major research questions approached. First, the current study examined a main effect of lyrics, assessing whether lyrical music hinders reading comprehension scores compared to non-lyrical music. Second, it was predicted that there would be a main effect of tempo, such that music with a fast tempo would also hinder reading comprehension scores compared to slow tempo music. Finally, it was predicted that there would be an interaction of lyrics, and tempo with passage difficulty, such that music with lyrics and a fast tempo would hinder reading comprehension the most in the presence of a difficult passage. An experiment was conducted involving 80 college students who completed a reading comprehension task, in conditions involving lyrics with slow tempo, lyrics with a fast tempo, no lyrics with a slow tempo, and no lyrics with a fast tempo, while reading passages at easy and difficult levels. The measured variables included reading comprehension and speed. Results showed that lyrical music was more detrimental to reading comprehension than non-lyrical music, and that harder passage difficulty was more detrimental than easy passage difficulty, however, music with a fast tempo was not more detrimental than music with a slow tempo. Implications of these findings suggest that language and reading comprehension processes of working memory are affected by the language component of lyrical music. These results could aid in launching more research into the study habits of young adults at the collegiate level, and help to create a more successful, healthy learning environment.
Reed, Amanda, "Background Music: The Effects of Lyrics and Tempo on Reading Comprehension and Speed" (2019). Psychology Master's Theses. 19.