A debate over the performance-enhancing effects of classical music has raged for over 15 years.
Now, scientists suggest the “Mozart effect” is a myth: Researchers have discovered no evidence for specific cognitive enhancements merely by listening to Mozart’s music.
The debate begin in 1993 as the journal Nature reported findings of enhanced spatial task performance among college students after exposure to Mozart’s music.
Mozart’s 1781 sonata for two pianos in D major (KV 448) supposedly enhanced students’ cognitive abilities through mere listening.
In the scientific community, however, the finding was met with skepticism, as researchers around the world found it surprisingly hard to replicate.
University of Vienna psychologists Jakob Pietschnig, Martin Voracek, and Anton K. Formann now report the findings of their meta-analysis of the “Mozart effect” in the U.S. journal Intelligence.
Their comprehensive study of studies synthesizes the entirety of the scientific record on the topic.
Retrieved for this systematic investigation were about 40 independent studies, published ones as well as a number of unpublished academic theses from the U.S. and elsewhere, totaling more than 3000 participants.
The University of Vienna researchers’ key finding is clear-cut: based on the accumulated evidence, there remains no support for gains in spatial ability specifically due to listening to Mozart music.
“I recommend listening to Mozart to everyone, but it will not meet expectations of boosting cognitive abilities,” says Jakob Pietschnig, lead author of the study.
The meta-analysis from the University of Vienna exposes the “Mozart effect” as a legend, thus concurring with Emory University psychologist Scott E. Lilienfeld, who in his recent book “50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology” already ranked the “Mozart effect” number six.
Source: University of Vienna