Effects of Music on Mood, and Aggression of At-Risk Adolescents
In the current research project,
testing was done to see if music could significantly alter moods of people.
The question arose while reading research presented at the 1996 annual meeting
of the American Psychological Association. Newcomb (1996) looked at relationships
between sex, drugs, and rock and roll music and concluded that no relationship
exists between music and sex or drugs. However, the experiment that sparked
the idea for the current study was about heavy metal rock music in relation
to suicide (Scheel, 1996). The findings from that project were that the students
that listened to rock had a higher chance of talking about and/or committing
suicide. However, it is not clear whether the music caused the kids to be more
suicidal, or the fact that they are more suicidal that made them listen to that
genre of music. If only correlations are researched, we cannot know what is
causing the effect on behavior. Experimental research that manipulates the variable
of music is needed.
Other previous studies were also used in forming my project idea. One study surveyed people about their moods after listening to music happy and sad music (Lewis, Dember, Scheff, & Radenhausen, 1995). Another study found that people rate depressing paintings as happy when they look at them while listening to happy music (Stratton, & Zalanowski, 1989). No studies were found that experimentally measured mood after listening to different types of music. Therefore, the current study was conceived.
Delinquency has many causes. Acting out, deviancy, and problem behaviors are some of the terms used to describe delinquent behavior (Aunola, Stattin, & Nurmi, 2000). Verbal aggression, hostility, and anger have been linked to acting out behavior, which often results in low self-esteem (Aunola et al., 2000). Nagin and Trembaly (1999) claim that the main behavior leading to delinquency is physical aggression. Physical aggression is a male-dominated trait and can become a part of ones personality at a very young age (Renfrew, 1997). Sheaffer (2001) tested several variables in delinquent and normal adolescents including aggression, self-esteem, depression, and time perspective. He found that the physical aggression and anger scores were significantly higher in delinquent adolescents than in a normal control group. No other measures were found to be different between the two groups. No experimental variables were used.
After reviewing previous research, it was clear that the exact relationship between anger, aggression, and music has not been adequately researched. It was reasoned that if a group of students who are known to have anger management problems were exposed to different kinds of music, the relationship between music and aggression might be clearer. Measurements could be taken on their overall ability to manage their aggression so that they could be compared to normal students. Different types of music could be used with these students. The effects on their positive and negative moods could be measured. Comparison between the moods could help us understand the relationship, if any, between moods, music, and aggression. It was difficult to clearly predict the results because some research indicated that music would not affect moods (null hypothesis) whereas, other research indicated that it would affect moods (research hypothesis).
An experiment done in Australia on the development of delinquent behavior in overly aggressive children (Bor, Najman, OCallaghan, Williams, & Anstey, 2001). showed how aggression in youth can foreshadow delinquency. Research presented by Sheaffer (2001) showed that delinquent adolescents were different from the normal control group on their aggression. Therefore, it was decided to use a school in the area that had delinquent students. If these students were more aggressive to begin with, as indicated by Sheaffer, these particular kids would probably be more likely to be set off by music than normal adolescents..
The school chosen with delinquent at-risk adolescents was the About Face Academy, which is a military-based alternative program for 6th through 9th grade students who have had continuous discipline problems. The academy specializes in behavior modification and offers a positive alternative for at-risk students in classes averaging only 10 to 15 students. Altogether there were twenty-seven students from About Face Academy who participated in the research from four different classes.
Students from Classen School of Advanced Studies were used for two reasons. First, 30 students at Classen participated in a pilot study to select appropriate music for the current study. Next, anger and aggression data from Classen students, which had previously been gathered by another experimenter (Sheaffer, 2001) was used. This was used to compare to the anger and aggression data collected in this study from the at-risk adolescents at About Face Academy.
All participants were treated according to the guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2002) for ethical treatment of human participants. The participants were told the purpose of the study and were thanked for their participation.
Aggression Instrument--The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (1992) was used to test the pre-conception, that delinquent youth are also more aggressive. In this test there are 29 questions that provide four subscales: Physical Aggression, Verbal Aggression, Anger, and Hostility. The participants rated themselves on questions, and could answer on a scale of 1 (extremely uncharacteristic of me) to 5 (extremely characteristic of me). The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire has test-retest reliability ranging from 0.72 to 0.80. (See appendix for entire instrument.)
Mood InstrumentThe Positive and Negative Affect Scale (P.A.N.A.S) was used to see the change of mood, if any, after the participants listened to the different music selections. On this particular test, participants are asked about their general feelings or emotions, for 10 positive and 10 negative adjectives. Each adjective is rated on a 5-point scale from very slightly or not at all, to extremely. The positive adjectives are Interested, Excited, Strong, Enthusiastic, Proud, Alert, Inspired, Determined, Attentive, and Active. The negative adjectives are Distressed, Upset, Guilty, Scared, Hostile, Irritable, Ashamed, Nervous, Jittery, and Afraid. According to Watson, Clark, and Tellegen (1998), the reliability scores of the P.A.N.A.S. are very good. They range from 0.86 to 0.90 for Positive Affect and from 0.84 to 0.87 for Negative Affect. (See appendix for entire instrument.)
Music Selections--A class of 30 students at Classen School of Advanced Studies, a magnet school for gifted and talented in the visual and performing arts and college bound students, were surveyed, in order to find age and mood appropriate music. Six songs were chosen, two songs each of three different types: Upbeat/happy music, upbeat/angry music, and downbeat/calm music. These were chosen as the three types of mood-oriented music.
Permission to use the students at the special school was obtained and the researcher and the principal of the school agreed upon a day and time for the research. The students at About Face Academy came into the room where the experimenter had the materials and equipment. A few minutes were spent building rapport with the students. Asking them their favorite musical selections by various recording artists and which type of music they did not like to listen to accomplished this.
The first type of music (two songs) was played and the students, while listening, recorded their feelings on the P. A N. A. S. Next, the second type of music (two songs) was played and the students filled out the second P. A. N. A. S. while listening. Then, the third type of music was played, and while the students were listening, they filled out the third P. A. N. A. S. form. Finally, the student answered the 29 questions on the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire.
The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire helped prove that the kids at About Face Academy are more prone to bouts of anger over small issues. The test scores of the About Face Academy students in this study were compared to the averages of normal adolescents that had taken the same test previously. Sheaffer (2001) previously reported the Buss-Perry data from Classen students. The averages of the About Face Academy students were much higher than those of students from Classen High School, and showed a statistically significant difference when compared using a t-test on the Physical Aggression and Anger scores. The Verbal Aggression and Hostility scores were not statistically different. This is the same pattern of results that Sheaffer (2001) previously reported. The scores for Classen Students are average Physical Aggression score = 23.94, average Verbal Aggression score = 15.10, average Anger score = 17.17, average Hostility score = 20.52. The scores for the About Face students are as follows: average Physical Aggression Score = 33.10, average Verbal Aggression score = 16.66, average Anger score = 21.55, average Hostility score = 20.79. (See Figure 2) This data comparison shows the fact that these students can be set off by small things much more so than less aggressive teenagers from Classen High School.
While looking at the averages of the P.A.N.A.S., in each step, it is obvious that with each type of music the moods of the children were different. The average pre-Positive Score was 24.385, and the average pre-Negative Score was 11.33. After the students listened to happy music their composite positive score was 22.33, and the negative was 9.848.
The Angry/Upbeat music was played for the kids, and their positive average was 14.07, and the negative score was 8.34. Both the positive and negative scores are lower, possibly showing that the music was having a calming effect.
After the calming selection was heard the students took their last test, and the results were just as surprising, the positive score 16.34, and the negative was 7.50.
Using analysis of variance, there was a statistically significant difference between the moods showing that the moods were directly affected by the music, p<. 02. This means there is less than a 2% probability that something other than the music (the independent variables) was causing the effect on the moods. This was true for both types of moods. For the positive P.A.N.A.S. scores, the mean moods before and after the happy music were significantly higher than the average moods after the Upbeat/Angry and Calming music. For the negative P.A.N.A.S. scores, the average moods before the music were the highest. The means of the negative moods were significantly lower after listening to the happy music, p < .05. The students negative moods were the lowest after listening to calm music. This shows that the music did have an effect on the negative moods as well.
The standard deviation on the positive scores goes from 2.755 on the pre, to 2.454, 2.120, and 3.012, which means that these scores are reliable because the standard deviations are low and are about the same for all three types of music and no music. For the negative scores the standard deviations ranged from 9.9, to 10.04, 11.13, and 9.716, again showing consistency across the types of music.
In summary, it can be said that moods of the students were affected by the music. Happy/Upbeat music caused more positive moods and both Angry/Upbeat and Calming/Downbeat music resulted in less positive moods. Negative moods were decreased by Happy/Upbeat music and decreased the most by Calming music. The reason for the higher positive and negative scores with no music, can be simply explained, the youth were being allowed to miss class for the experimentation, and, therefore, this impacted their moods at the beginning of the session.
The results show that the type of music is important in affecting the moods of students in an alternative school. These students are known to have trouble because of how they express their aggression. This study shows that the type of music they listen to probably affects their mood and probably their aggressive behavior. Happy/Upbeat music to help make their moods more positive and Calming music to lower negative moods should probably be used.
If this project were done again, it would be interesting to more tightly control ages and use additional types of music. If additional factors, which are considered to control aggression in at-risk adolescents, can be identified, perhaps, meaningful interventions can be implemented to help them achieve greater success. A comparison of Classen students versus About Face Academy students with regard to the P.A.N.A.S. scores would also be an interesting follow up study.
Table 1--Means for P.A.N.A.S.
Type of music Before Happy Angry Mellow
Positive Scores 24.4 22.3 19.1 16.4
Negative Scores 11.3 9.5 8.3 7.5
Table 2-Analysis of Variance for P.A.N.A.S. Positive Scores
Source SS df MS F p
Type of music 1015.6 3 338.5 3.33 0.02*
Error 7940.3 78 101.8
Total 8955.9 81
Table 3-Analysis of Variance for P.A.N.A.S. Negative Scores
Source SS df MS F p
Type of music 231.2 3 77.0 2.69 0.05*
Error 2226.2 78 28.5
Total 2557.4 81
Red circles indicate statistically significant differences using a t-test
Copy of the Positive and Negative Affect Scale
Copy of the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire
After Happy/upbeat music
After angry/upbeat music
After mellow/calming music
|Positive score Means: Standard Deviations:||24||23||33||38|
|1.7 24.4 2.8||4||10.1 22.3 2.5||28||6.5 14.1 2.1||6||8||0 16.4 3.0|
|Negative Score Means: Standard Deviations:||14||7||2||5|
|.7 11.3 9.9||0||2.3 9.8 10.0||0||2 8.3 11.1||0||14.3 7.5 9.7||8|