Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Peter Vietze

Committee Member

Kenneth Sumner

Committee Member

Anthony D'Urso


This thesis project examines the role that personal musical preferences and past musical experiences play in the effect that listening to music has on emotion. It was predicted that listening to a favored piece of music would increase positive affect, that this effect would be intensified for those with a history of musical training, and that musical selections would be varied and be related to past experiences. 36 undergraduate students at Montclair State University participated in the study. 17 participants in the control group sat in a quiet and comfortable room for 5-7 minutes. In the music condition, 19 participants listened to their favorite music for 5-7 minutes. After which, the PANAS was administered followed by an interview consisting of 6 questions about general musical experience. Results showed a significant main effect for condition and positive scores on the PANAS, providing support for the first prediction that listening to personally favored music does improve positive affect. No effect was observed regarding the role of musical training. However, the interview yielded an interesting finding regarding musical selections. In contraction to predictions, the majority of participants reported that musical selections were chosen with a specific emotional goal, to alter or maintain an emotional state. Selections were not favored because of past experiences with specific styles of music or personal cultural histories. These findings suggest the need to re-evaluate the current focus of research in the area of music and emotion.

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