Boothby and Robbins (2011) The Effects of Music Listening and Art Production on Negative Mood: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

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journal article


Dawn Michele Boothby and Steven J. Robbins. The Arts in Psychotherapy. 2011; Vol. 38, No. 3: pp 204-208.


A large literature now exists to examine the effects of music listening on negative mood. However, few studies both isolate music as the active ingredient in mood improvement and compare music to a placebo condition designed to reduce demand effects. In the present study, 60 adult participants recruited from the local community were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: music listening + art production (drawing), music listening + art sorting, no music + art production, or no music + art sorting. By giving participants in all four groups an “arts” task, we intended to equate expectations of improvement and thereby better rule out demand effects as a source of group differences. Self-report measures of negative mood were collected before and after the 10 min intervention period. Participants in the two music listening conditions showed greater mood enhancement compared to the two non-music conditions. However, there were no significant effects of the art conditions (production vs. sorting). These results document that music listening has specific efficacy in enhancing mood even when expectations of improvement are equated across groups.


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