Collection: Gareth Lawlor ICA

Research and Findings

Research and Findings

Effects Music has (Excerpts from References)

Example User Testing Results

User Test Prototype

? = What effect it has on a listener's mood

The way I will represent the instrument is an instrument heavy song so in the case of l The Killers Sam’s Town (Instrumental) the leading instrument is Piano.

I have narrowed down the instruments because it doesn’t make sense for more instruments to be in an unsuitable genre.


Dance (3 songs)

Decks - Slow Tempo - ?

Decks – Mid Tempo - ?

Decks - Fast Tempo - ?


Rock (12 songs)

Electric Guitar - Slow Tempo - ?

Electric Guitar – Mid Tempo - ?

Electric Guitar - Fast Tempo - ?

Acoustic Guitar - Slow Tempo - ?

Acoustic Guitar – Mid Tempo - ?

Acoustic Guitar - Fast Tempo - ?

Drum - Slow Tempo - ?

Drum – Mid Tempo - ?

Drum - Fast Tempo - ?

Piano - Slow Tempo - ?

Piano   - Mid Tempo - ?

Piano   - Fast Tempo - ?


Pop (3 songs)

Acoustic Guitar - Slow Tempo - ?

Acoustic Guitar – Mid Tempo - ?

Acoustic Guitar - Fast Tempo - ?


Classical (3 songs)

Piano - Slow Tempo - ?

Piano   - Mid Tempo - ?

Piano   - Fast Tempo - ?


There are a lot of songs that need to be tested so for easiness to the experiment not to tire out my testers and for them to give inaccurate answers, I will limit the songs to two a genre, based on my hypothesis of which songs will have the best effect on the players. 

User Testing

Get the user to play the game with and without music to verify that the music helps improve mood, use 1 to 10 ratings systems before and after the test. However, music is proven to improve mood, and I ultimately want to prove which music has what effect on the user. This will be done by if the player puts a lower number than the start that genre will be a more sad effect, if it’s higher it will have the opposite effect.

Another way to do the user testing would be to get them to play the game with sounds that impact a person in the opposite way than the desired effect of the level, so for example, in a sad and sombre part of the game, play happy dance music that will pump the player up, rather than the one that will make the player empathise with the character.

For the initial test however, I will get the testers to listen to the music in isolation to make sure that it is in fact the sounds that are impacting the player’s mood. This will be done by giving them headphones, and just listening to the sounds and giving a score on their mood before and after testing. 


Little research, however, has studied the direct relationship between low-level, structural properties of in-store music and outcome variables. Milliman’s (1982) seminal work examining the effects of a structural property— tempo— of musical selections on supermarket shoppers’ behaviours— spending— unfortunately did not stimulate large stream of follow-up research. In fact, to our knowledge, there is no published work to date examining the combined impact of more than one structural property omusic on consumer responses in a realistic field setting. This dearth of research represents a gaping our understanding, often leaving those designingandselecting environmental music reliant on little mothan partially informedguesswork with regard to music’s structural properties. 


Tempo is strongly correlated with arousal. Fast (slow) music has been shown to raise (lower) listeners’ self-reported arousal levels (Husain et al.2002; Balch andLewis1996; Chebat et al.2001; Kellaris and Kent 1993). Further, the effect of tempo on self-reported arousal is reflected in bodily responses to tempo; fast music can increase physiological variables such as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate (Lundin1985).



We can usually pick if a piece of music is particularly happy or sad, but this isn’t just a subjective idea that comes from how it makes us feel. In fact, our brains actually respond differently to happy and sad music.

Even short pieces of happy or sad music can affect us. One study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. This also happened with other facial expressions, but was most notable for those that were close to neutral.

This means that sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them, which explains why some of us find listening to sad music enjoyable, rather than depressing.

In a study of couples who spent time getting to know each other, looking at each other’s top 10 favourite songs actually provided fairly reliable predictions as to the listener’s personality traits.



To break it down, here is the connection they have found:

Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease

Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease

Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease

Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing

Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle

Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing

Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease

Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentle

Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle

Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing

 Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease

Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease

Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease

Research on the effects of music during exercise has been done for years. In 1911, an American researcher, Leonard Ayres, found that cyclists pedalled faster while than they did in silence.

This happens because listening to music can drown out our brain’s cries of fatigue. As our body realizes we’re tired and wants to stop exercising, it sends signals to the brain to stop for a break. Listening to music competes for our brain’s attention, and can help us to override those signals of fatigue, though this is mostly beneficial for low- and moderate-intensity exercise. During high-intensity exercise, music isn’t as powerful at pulling our brain’s attention away from the pain of the workout.



Music is integral to our health.

Scientists of the University of Missouri have found that people can boost their mood simply by listening to upbeat music.

People in a study, while listening to upbeat music boosted their moods, as opposed to sadder songs which lowered the person’s mood.

People often choose music to reflect their moods, e.g. when a person breaks up with someone they listen to sad music.

People like angry music when they are frustrated.

Music therapy has been used for centuries as a way to restore energy, improve mood, and even help the body heal more naturally.

Doctors suggest soothing tunes to lower heart rate and help you breathe easier, making your own music also has the same effects.

Military bands use music to boost confidence and courage.

Music is proven to help deal with Stress.

(Various Sources all in the references, just jumbled together)


An analysis of 5 studies on music for depression concluded that music therapy is not only acceptable for depressed patients, but it actually helps improve their moods. Music has proven useful in helping patients with serious medical illnesses such as cancer, burns, and multiple sclerosis who are also depressed. If it can help in these situations, it may be able to help you and your loved ones experience more positive moods.

Many people find familiar music comforting and calming. 

In fact, music is so effective inreducing anxiety,it is often used in dental, preoperative, and radiation therapy settings tohelp patients cope with their worries about procedures.

Any kind of relaxing, calming music can contribute to calmer moods. Calming music can be combined with cognitive therapy to lower anxiety even more effectively than conventional therapy alone.

Some studies suggest that specially designed music, such as music that includes tones that intentionally induce binaural beats to put brain waves into relaxed delta or theta rhythms, can help improve symptoms in anxious patients even more than music without these tones; listening to this music without other distractions (not while driving, cooking, talking, or reading) promotes the best benefits.

Many people listen to soothing music to help them fall asleep. This practice is supported by studies in a variety of settings. Just don’t try listening to lively dance music or rousing marches before you aim to fall asleep. Conversely, if you’re trying to wake up in the morning, go for the fast-tempo music rather than lullabies.

 Since ancient times, it has been known that certain kinds of music can help soothe away stress. Calming background music can significantly decrease irritability and promote calm in elderly nursing home patients with dementia. Music, widely chosen, lowers stress hormone levels. On the other hand, every parent of a teenager knows that certain kinds of music, particularly at high volumes, can induce stress. Knowing that certain kinds of music can alleviate stress is one thing; being mindful in choosing what kind of music to listen to is another. Choose your musical intake as carefully as you choose your food and friends.



Music is known to tap into various parts of the brain that is why it is utilized by many experts in treating depressed or anxious patients. The meter, timber, rhythm and pitch of music are managed in areas of the brain that deal with emotions and mood. These key areas are the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and the parietal lobe.

The hippocampus, a structure of the limbic system, is responsible for spatial orientation, navigation and the consolidation of new memories. It also brings about emotional responses. The prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, manages extreme impulses and emotions. Known as the “seat of good judgment,” it enables one to make good and acceptable calls so that inappropriate behaviours are prevented.

A lot of people turn to upbeat music whenever they feel sad or depressed, and it comes as no surprise why it is a viable solution for people feeling blue. For several years, music has made a lot of individuals happy. That’s because soothing tunes foster the release of serotonin, a hormone that fosters happiness and a general sense of well-being. It also flushes the body with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. Music also paves the way for the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that brings about euphoria and elation.

Songs with positive messages, such as “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor and “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson are filled with inspirational meanings that can truly uplift your mood. The messages that are embedded in such songs – plus the euphoria that comes with singing these tunes – can motivate you to brush yourself up and try again.

Are work-related stresses making you feel sad and anxious? A great way to relieve the tensions that bring you down is to listen to music. Soothing tunes can help relax your tensed muscles, as well as pace down your breathing rate. With these physiologic changes, you can eliminate the stresses that can make you cranky and moody.

In a study conducted by researchers from Penn State University, results showed that students who listened to music – almost any type of music – reported feeling more joyful, optimistic, friendly, and calm and relaxed.

While most recommend soothing music such as classical masterpieces by Beethoven and Mozart, the research shows that even the loudest of songs – such as rock and grunge – can make you feel positive. Whether you are into pop, new wave, soft rock or alternative genres, you can rely on your favourite tunes to make you feel happy – even after a crappy day.

Be forewarned, there is such a thing as “sad music.”  In one experiment, research subjects were separated into two groups.  One group listened to upbeat “happy” music while the other group listened to sombre “sad” music.  The people who listened to the “happy” music felt happy afterwards.  The people who listened to “sad” music conversely felt sad.  But what was actually surprising was the change in thoughts after listening to music.  Those who listened to the sad music remembered more of the bad things that had happened during the course of their lives and had little confidence in their ability to complete simple tasks successfully.



Music is frequently used to regulate mood in everyday life in the background of
many activities. It enhances and maintains moods which could help to improve
performance on work or reduce physiological strain. The present study showed
that musically-induced moods and the accompanying physiological patterns persist
when music is played in the background to a task. More specifically, music induces
moods into the various directions of the valence-arousal model and this induced direction
is sustained during subsequent task conductance, although to a lesser extent.
Physiological measurements showed the same patterns and appeared to be responsive
to a single mood dimension; skin conductance level was responsive to energy
levels, and skin temperature, EMG zygomaticus, and EMG corrugator appeared to
be sensitive to mood valence. Therefore, this study showed the impact of individually
selected music from each quadrant of the valence-energy model on mood and
the corresponding physiological responses as well as the persistence of the induced
mood directions during task conductance. These findings indicate the usefulness
of continuing of musical mood induction during task conductance to ensure that
moods persist. This additionally supports the use of music during everyday activities,
including mental work, as it may have a positive effect on subjective mood as
well as reduce physiological strain.

The study described in this paper aimed to show whether and to what extent music
can induce moods while being played in the background to a concurrent activity.
Results from subjective ratings and physiological responses showed that changes in4.4. Discussion 61
moods can be successfully induced with background music. As music can be played
almost anywhere, this study therefore provides support for the idea that music can
be used to induce moods during common activities in daily life.
The subjective mood measurements indicated that the moods were induced towards
the expected direction, both with the traditional mood induction technique
and when music is presented in the background to a task. Some differences can
be indicated as well. Firstly, the mood induction during task conductance revealed
higher energy levels compared to the traditional mood induction without task conductance.
This can be explained by the fact that performance of the task itself
requires mental resources so the energy levels naturally increase in this situation
(Cacioppo et al., 2007). Indeed the energy levels at the TaskOnly (control) situation
were also high. Nevertheless, the difference in energy levels was most apparent in
the sad music mood induction. This can be explained by a ceiling effect; The energy
of the happy induction was already high when no task was performed, performing
the task did not lead to a further increase in energy levels. Secondly, valence levels
were higher after the sad mood induction with music played in the background
compared to when no task was performed during mood induction. This might be
because mood regulation towards a neutral or happy mood tends to start naturally
when someone is in a sad mood (Isen, 2000). As task conductance distracts from
the sad mood induction, it might help to regulate mood upwards.

The present study investigated whether moods can be induced in the background
to a concurrent activity. It was conducted in a lab, however. To improve ecological
validity future research could investigate to what extent the current results can be
generalised to various daily activities, also incorporating a wide variety of music.
These results could be used in a music player that suggests music to influence mood
in certain situations.
As already suggested by some studies (Haake, 2006; Lesiuk, 2005), this study actually
showed that background music can induce moods. Background music further
results in changes in physiological responses. This is beneficial as it enables applications
that use measurements from an objective source (i.e., physiological measurements)
to indicate mood and to react to it by selecting music. The music selected
can have the aim to change mood or physiology in a predefined way, for example
to calm or energise the user. Possible applications that can benefit from this are
music players that regulate mood by playing music in the background of office work
or while driving (Lesiuk, 2005; Van der Zwaag, Fairclough, Spiridon, & Westerink,
2011; Van der Zwaag, Dijksterhuis, et al., 2012).
To conclude, the present study showed that moods can be induced with music
when played in the background to a concurrent activity. The subjective mood ratings
as well as the skin conductance level and the EMG zygomaticus activity best reflected
this type of music mood induction. The results imply that moods and physiological
changes can be induced during everyday activities, which is useful given that mood
influences several cognitive functions.

(Music directs your mood, by Marjolein D. van der Zwaag, Eindhoven: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 2012 - Proefschrift)


In a study:

Jazz caused most people to be happy.

Rock caused most to be energetic or angry.

And pop caused people to be sad.

(All extracts from the article listed below the information)