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Musical memory: the memory-enhancing effect of music and emotion

1 January 2016


This study examined the memory-enhancing effects of music and emotion. A previous study by Kuhbandner and Pekrun (2013) found that recall for words could be enhanced by an implicit association between colors and emotion. Researchers attempted to duplicate their findings but with the happy-sad distinction between major and minor modes, respectively. Seventeen participants were recruited from Pacific University’s School of Professional Psychology via email. The average age of participants was 27.9 years of age. Participants completed a series of recall tasks that consisted of 27 lists of words. Each word list included 11 random neutral words plus either a positive, neutral, or negative target word. Target words were randomly placed in the 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th interval to avoid a serial position confound. Participants completed separate sound and word evaluation forms. Ratings were given for emotional valence (negative, positive) and arousal (low, high). A significant main effect of word type was found but no interaction effect between word type and sound type. There was no significant difference in valence or arousal between C major or A minor, although the latter was rated slightly higher. Words were rated the same as their intended emotional distinction. The results were mixed and inconclusive. Further research should attract a larger sample size or explore valence specific effects for other combinations of sensory input.


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