When the Mozart effect was first introduced to the public in
1993, it created widespread excitement about the relationship
between listening to Mozart’s music and high IQ scores. To many
people, the Mozart effect meant that simply listening to Mozart’s
music makes people smart. However, that is not true, and because
of misassumption of the Mozart effect, the original study, which
identified it, has recently come under fire.
The Mozart effect was identified in a study at the University
of California, Irvine, published in 1993 in Nature. The experiment
was developed by two physicists, Gordon Shaw and Frances Rauscher.
In their experiment, college students who listened to the first
10 minutes of Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K.448)
showed better scores on a test of spatial-temporal reasoning
than those who did not listen. Spatial-temporal reasoning is
used for many skills, such as chess, math, and music. In a subsequent
test, there was a difference in the level of performance. However,
the effect only lasted 15 minutes.
Shaw’s next study, done on three-year-old children, found positive
connection between music and reasoning ability. Those who took
piano lessons performed 35 percent better on a test than those
who did not. Again, the effect was temporary.
It was enough to kindle the interest of the mass media and
the public, however. With often-exaggerated coverage from media,
the Mozart effect became popular science. The former governor
of Georgia, Zell Miller even mandated that all infants in the
state should receive a classical CD when they left the hospital.
In record stores, many IQ-raising CDs appeared.
However, when Psychologist Kenneth Steele from Appalachian
State University duplicated the 1993 experiment, the result
was contradictory. He found no effect. This finding was also
published in Nature.
Christopher Chabris of Harvard University analyzed 16 studies
of the Mozart effect. In 1999, in an article in The Lancet,
Chabris said that at best, the music could increase IQ by 21
points in the area of spatial-temporal reasoning. This number
is less than originally claimed. Moreover, it means that luck
and chance can create more increase in points scored than the
New research was done in 2001 at York University by psychology
professor William F. Thompson, who published in the American
Psychological Society journal Psychological Science. Thompson’s
study showed no direct connection between listening to Mozart’s
music and spatial ability. In an article on M2 Presswire, Thompson
explained his findings; “The enhancement of spatial ability
is merely related to changes in mood and arousal induced by
music, which has a strong effect on these states, but then,
so do many other things, such as chocolate, caffeine, an engaging
story, or whatever suits your fancy.”
Today,study on the Mozart effect remains inconclusive,butthe
research is continuing. For now, students probably should not
expect Mozart to work for their exams, but listening to classical
music can ease their mind and relax their brain for their better