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October 2021

The distracting effects of vocal and instrumental music on the cognitive test performance of introverts and extraverts

Author(s): Trew, S., Sneade, I.

Journal/Book: Pers Indiv Differ. 1999; 27: the Boulevard Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford Ox5 1GB, England. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 381-392.

Abstract: This study examined the effects of vocal and instrumental music upon the performance of introverts and extraverts on three cognitive tasks. In the presence of either vocal or instrumental music, or in silence, introverts and extraverts sixth form pupils (N = 144) completed a reading comprehension, a logic problem and a coding task. An interaction was predicted such that instrumental music would impair and enhance the rest performance of introverts and extraverts, respectively. And that these effects would be magnified in the vocal music condition. No significant interactions were found, although there was a trend for the introverts to be impaired by the introduction of music to the environment and extraverts to be enhanced by it, particularly on the reading and coding tasks. A main effect of extraversion was found in the reading comprehension task and nearly in the coding task (p<0.06). There was a condition effect on the logic task with subjects doing best in the presence of instrumental music. Experimental explanations for the lack of predicted interactions are offered. These findings are discussed with respect to Eysenck's theory of personality [Eysenck, H. (1967). The biological basis of personality. Springfield, IL: Thomas.].

Note: Article Furnham A, Univ Coll London, Dept Psychol, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1 0AP, ENGLAND


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