The Mozart Effect: Don Campbell

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The correlation between music and individuals is a very heavily researched topic. This literature review will critically evaluate the claim made by Don Campbell (1997, p.24) that ‘playing Mozart makes babies smarter’. This review will look at the history of the Mozart effect and also look at a range of sources that support and also go against the claim that the Mozart effect makes babies smarter. These claims will be analysed through the three main measurements in relation the Mozart effect these are spatial reasoning, arousal and also mood.

The idea of the Mozart effect began in 1993 with a study conducted by Rauscher, Shaw & Ky. This study involved 36 university students taking three different IQ spatial reasoning tasks and for each test used either Mozart’s sonata for two pianos in D major and relaxation music was played, silence was also used. The results of this experiment showed that students who had listened to the music of Mozart had better results for the spacial reasoning tests in comparison to silence or relaxation music. The results also showed that the impact of Mozart’s music was only temporary and only lasted for 10-15 minutes. Overall this study was very basic and had numerous flaws such as the sample size and also the variety of tests used to look at the impact of music (Rauscher, Shaw & Ky, 1993). In 1997 Don Campbell’s book The Mozart effect popularised the claim that music makes children smarter. This book created a public interest in music and brain development. The book uses Rauscher’s experiment as an example of what Mozart’s music can do which in this experiment shows a temporary increase in spatial reasoning, this however was misinterpreted by the public as an increase in IQ. The popularisation of the...

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...(3), 248-251. Retrieved from

Husain, G, Schellenberg, G & Thompson, W. (2002). Effects of Musical Tempo and Mode on Arousal, Mood, and Spatial Abilities. Music Perception, 20(2), 151-171. Retrieved from

Jones, S & Zigler E. (2002). The Mozart Effect: Not learning from history. Applied Developmental Psychology, 23(3), 355-372. Retrieved from Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., & Ky, K. N (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature, 365(6447), 611. doi:10.1038/365611a0

Sack, K. (1998, January 15). Georgia's Governor Seeks Musical Start for Babies. New York Times. Retrieved from
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