Music, Stress, and Resilience

Margaret A Fraser


The feeling of stress and stressful situations are common to anyone in any stage of life.  Students, adults, and children experience many different stressors on a daily basis, which can sometimes interfere with everyday life and affect a person’s resilience, or their ability to cope with adverse situations.  Music is oftentimes used as a method of dealing with stress, and has been shown in many different studies to be an effective tool for coping with stress1,2.  Since one aspect of being resilient is facing stress, challenges, or adverse conditions3, music may be an effective way to increase resilience, or help a person continue to be resilient.  The main focus of this study will be centered on this relationship. Specifically, whether music can increase one’s ability to be resilient in the face of stress and adverse conditions.

In order to investigate this relationship, participants in this study will be asked to play an unfair computer game to expose them to adverse conditions and cause stress.  Participants will be asked to play the game for 5 minutes, and during this time, they will listen to music that is either self-selected, pre-selected by researchers, the default game music, or the sound of ocean waves as a control. The participants’ stress levels will be measured using the Affect Grid test4 and recorded before the start of the game, and again at the end of 5 minutes.  After the last affect grid measure is taken, the participants will be given a brief survey, which includes open-ended and multiple-choice questions, in order to obtain their feedback about the music, the game, and how it made them feel. Following the survey, participants will be asked if they would like to continue playing the game for the remainder of the time.  If they say yes, this will be noted and timed.  When they are done, whether the participant stays or not, they will be handed the debriefing sheet and thanked before leaving. When the results are collected, a one-way ANOVA and an appropriate post-hoc analysis will be used to determine the significance of the data.

This data can be most directly applied to college students since the participants will be selected from North Central College; however, the results may also hold true for adults and younger people. Since resilience is a multivariate concept, similar experiments to measure its relationship with stress and music could be operationalized in different ways, leading to future studies. If results are significant, music may be used to help individuals increase their resiliency during difficult times.


Music, Stress, Resilience

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