The Melancholy of Music Perception
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
RODRIGUEZ, J. R. (1999). The Melancholy of Music Perception. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 2. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved October 18, 2017 .

The Melancholy of Music Perception
JASON R. RODRIGUEZ
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
The purpose of my study is to investigate the effects of music on the perception of art. I will measure these effects by recording the results of a questionnaire, after the viewing of a painting in one of three conditions, one with depressing music, one with happy music, and one with no music. I hypothesized that depressing-type music will negatively affect the perception of an abstract painting. The results were not in the direction that I had hypothesized. Instead, the results seemed to favor the no music group being more negatively affected by the painting, but not significantly.


INTRODUCTION
In the process of searching for a topic to do my study on, I stumbled upon a type of project that combined the two things that I have extreme passions for, music and art. The project that really grabbed my attention was one performed by Valerie N. Stratton and Annette H. Zalanowski, titled "The Effects of Music and Cognition on Mood" (Stratton & Zalanowski, 1991). This study, which I found in the noted journal Psychology of Music, really became the focal point of all of my research and efforts. Their purpose was to show that music and visual stimuli combine to influence mood more strongly than either stimulus alone. Stratton and Zalonowski`s study was quite detailed in the sense that it tried to control for the many confounding variables that could have possibly affected the study. The results that this study yielded did show that music and visual stimuli did influence mood, but not significantly. These results only furthered my interest into the correlation between music and mood. Some of the ideas that I borrowed from this study included the idea of providing three different conditions in which to place my subjects in. Specifically, I provided the three different conditions with three different atmospheres in which to view a painting. The first condition provided the subjects with music that was of the depressive type, while the second condition provided the subjects with music that was of the happy/content type. Another idea that I grabbed from this study was the idea of providing a visual stimulus in which to surround the music with. The second article that I used was found in The Journal of Creative Behavior, and was entitled "The Effects of Musical Mood Induction on Creativity." Jill E. Adaman and Paul H. Blaney, the researchers in this experiment, used music mood induction to induce different states of mood in groups of subjects. Creativity was the independent variable being studied in this study, and the mood induced by music was the dependent variable. This study looked at the creativity of individuals when induced by music through written creativity tests (Adaman & Blaney, 1995). My study, on the other hand, looks at the effects of music on the perception of art. Although seemingly different, these two studies are the same in relation to creativity. Adaman and Blaney provided me with their interesting results, which lead me to form my own hypothesis for my project. Their findings, that were predicted, showed that the musically depressed groups and musically elated groups, tended to score higher than the neutral groups on the creativity tests (Adaman & Blaney, 1995). However, these findings did not show significant differences between the two groups affected by the contrasting forms of music on the creativity tests. It was these findings that showed me that music could possibly induce different moods on people, along with creativity. Seeing in the study that mood change in either direction was associated with higher scores on creativity tests peaked my attention to the subject (Adaman & Blaney, 1995). The background of this study provided me with the insight to look at creativity, and to provide a glance of it in the form of a painting. The next article that caught my attention in relation to music and mood came from The Journal of Cognition and Emotion, and was entitled "Validation of a Music Mood Induction Procedure: Some Preliminary Findings." The investigator who was responsible for this study was noted psychologist Dr. Pamela Kenealy. This study, like the others mentioned above, looked at mood-induced behaviors. This study investigated the effects of "sad" music and "happy" music on the behavior of subjects (Kenealy, 1988). The distinguishing addition to this study is that it also evaluated mood through self-reports along with behavioral tasks. The results of this study yielded significant results in conjunction with music affecting mood through both self-reports and behavioral tasks (Kenealy, 1988). What I gathered from this study helped me to develop my questionnaire in regards to self-report. The direction that this study took in regards to the pre-selection of the subjects was a way in which I found to be non-random. The final article that I looked at in reference to my project was an article I found in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The article was written by W. Balch and D. Myers and entitled, Dimensions of mood in mood-dependent memory. What I took from this study was the idea of enhanced memory when enhanced by mood in general. This article didn`t just speak of memory being enhanced by a singular mood, but by contrasting moods all together, happy and sad (Balch &Myers, 1998). The results that this study provided was that happy mood induction significantly affected memory in a positive way. Through all of these studies, I found that mood and music went hand in hand. With all of the results yielded from these studies, I gathered that there were proper grounds to evaluate this correlation in some facet. The studies all dealt with music and mood induction in some form, but then took different paths in which to apply the correlation. The purpose of my study is different than those described in the literature. It is not based solely upon any one of the studies I have listed above but a combination of the studies. The purpose of my study is in fact to see the effects of music on the perception of art. More specifically, it is to see the effects of one creative piece of art on the perception of another creative piece of art.


METHOD
Participants In this study, Missouri Western State College undergraduate students from two separate intermediate psychology classes were used. In all, there were a total of 42 students used in the collection of the data, consisting of both men and women. The students were offered extra credit from the professor, in order to participate in this study.Materials The primary materials used in my study include a painting, as painted by Josh Cotter, as the focal point for my study. The painting is entitled Vacuum-Packed Fresh Pork, and depicts a very vague and abstract view of pigs in various positions (Figure 6). In order for each group of subjects to view the painting at the same time, I used a computer overhead projector to present the painting. While viewing this painting, there was a background presence of music in two of the three conditions. In the first condition I used a song by Nine Inch Nails, entitled "The Downward Spiral," to induce a depressing state of mood on the subjects while simultaneously viewing the painting. For the second condition I used a song by John Coltrane, entitled "Resolution," to induce a happy or content state of mood on the subjects while simultaneously viewing the painting. I played the music on the sound system provided in the Multi-purpose classroom at Missouri Western State College. Finally, I used a survey that I constructed to address the perception of the painting. The survey looked at the different emotions that the painting evoked.Procedure The procedure that I used in this study included the initial placing of the painting upon the computer overhead. By placing the painting on the overhead, it could be seen by all in the classroom without interference. After placing the picture, I implemented one of the three conditions. For the first condition, which had 10 subjects, I started the depressing form of music. For the second condition, which had 18 subjects, I started the happy music. And finally, for the third condition, which had 14 subjects, I did not start any music at all. The students in the study were then asked to view the painting for approximately one and half minutes. After the viewing of the painting, the subjects were then asked to fill out the survey that I had constructed. After filling out the survey, the subjects were then debriefed about the purpose of the study.


RESULTS
The overall results of my findings can be physically seen on the graphs that I have provided (Figure 1-5). I performed 15 separate 1-way ANOVA`S on the findings I received from the results of my survey. A significant main effect between depressing music and no music categories were found F (2,39)=3.55, p= .038. This showed that the depressive category liked the painting more than the no music category. A slightly significant main effect was also found between happy music and no music categories F (2,39)=2.82, p= .072. This showed that the no music category said that the painting was sadder than what the happy music category said. Another significant main effect was also found between the no music group, and both the happy group and the depressive group F (2,39)=7.18, p= .002. This result provided that the no music group thought the painting showed more negativity than the other groups thought. Another slightly significant main effect was also found between the happy music and no music categories F (2,39)=2.82, p= .072. This result provided that the happy group thought the painting was more creative than the no music group. The final significant main effect found was between the depressive group and both, the happy group and the no music group F (2,39)=5.13, p= .011. This result provided that the depressive group felt that the background noise (or lack there of) affected their perception of the painting more than the no music or happy group thought.


DISCUSSION
This research was an attempt to correlate the factors of music and mood. Specifically, this study addressed the effects of music on the perception of art. The hypothesis that I provided was that depressing-like music would have a negative impact on the perception of an abstract painting. The results of my study provided information that was of contrast to my hypothesis. In fact, the depressing-like music had more of a positive impact on the perception of the painting. Out of the three groups of subjects: the control, happy, and depressed group, the control group with no music viewed the painting more negatively. I did find a significant result that was very important, and showed that the depressed group felt that the background noise affected their perception of the painting more than the other groups. This result does show that music affects the perception of art, but in a way that contradicts my prediction. So the results of my study do prove my purpose, but fail to prove my hypothesis. The results of my study coincide with the results of the studies in my literature search dramatically. Although my study is unique in conjunction with the literature that I looked at, the results all pointed towards music definitely affecting perception and mood. This study should expand by also looking at mood self-reporting. Instead of just gaining information from pre-existing questions of perception from the subject, an open-ended question of perception would benefit this study greatly. Other welcome attractions to this study could be the opinions of music professionals upon the exact mood the music elicits. This would make the study a bit more respectable, and exact in regards to materials. One thing that I would change about my study would be the nature in which I gathered my data. I would make it a more personal experience for the subjects by using them in groups of three, instead of by mass use. I would also change the forms of music that I used to induce mood. I would use more of a classical format for the contrasting forms of music. Finally, I would make the environment of my study more subtle and plain. I would make it to where there were no distractions at all, to the subjects.


REFERENCES
Adaman, J. E., & Blaney, P. H. (1995). The Effects of Musical Mood Induction on Creativity. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 29, 95-108. Balch, W., & Myers, D. (1998). Dimensions of mood in mood-dependent memory. The Journal of Experimental Psychology, 25, 70-83. Cotter, Josh. (1999). Vacuum-Packed Fresh Pork. (Painting).Kenealy, P. (1988). Validation of a Music Mood Induction Procedure: Some Preliminary Findings. Cognition &Emotion, 2, 41-48. Stratton, V. N., & Zalanowski, A. H. (1991). The Effects of Music and Cognition on Mood. Psychology of Music, 19, 121-127.


APPENDIX
Review the following questions and circle the number that best describes your answer, with numbers 1 and 7 being the extreme answers. Please be honest with your answers, and thank you for your participation.

1. Did you like this painting? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

2. Did this painting affect your mood? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very much not at all

3. Did this painting make you feel happy? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very much not at all 4. Did this painting make you feel sad? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

5. Would you describe this painting as abstract? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

6. Would you describe this painting as scary? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very much not at all

7. Would you describe this painting as depressing? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

8. Do you think that this painting evokes negativity? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all9. Would you describe this painting as colorful? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

10. Would you say that this painting is creative? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

11. Would you say that this painting is dull? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

12. Would you say that this painting is easily understandable? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

13. Do you think that the objects in the painting are identifiable? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

14. Do you think that the creator of this painting is famous? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very much not at all 15. Do you feel that the background noise (or lack there of) affected your perception of this painting? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7very much not at all

Please check the appropriate spaces

Male ___ Female ___ Age ___


figure 1

Submitted 12/2/99 12:27:57 PM
Last Edited 12/2/99 1:01:30 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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