Document Type

Research Article


Music and its influence on stress have been researched extensively (Pelletier, 2004). Specifically, the tempo of music has been identified as a quality of music with a greater role on impacting the stress response than other components of music (Gomez & Danuser, 2007). An experimental study was conducted in order to assess music tempo’s role in stress reduction, utilizing psychophysiological measures. This study used a convenience sample of African-American undergraduate students from an all-female, Historical Black College in the southeast region of the United States (N = 102). It was hypothesized that participants who were exposed to slower tempo music, rather than the faster tempo music or silence, would have a significantly lower stress level compared to baseline, as assessed through psychophysiological measures of arousal (heart rate and galvanic skin response). One musical piece was utilized: Nuvole Bianche by Ludovico Einaudi, and this piece was manipulated to have a faster and slower tempo. These manipulated versions were used for the slow tempo and fast tempo condition; for the silence condition (control) participants used ear buds. The results indicated that faster tempo music produces a significant increase in participant heart rate, as compared to baseline. Participants in the slow tempo music and the silent condition demonstrated a significant decrease in heart rate. GSR was significantly higher for participants in the fast tempo music and the control conditions. There was no significant change in GSR for participants in the slow tempo condition. This study is important, as it demonstrates music’s ability to influence our physiological experience of stress below our awareness. Therefore, essential insight has been gained on music tempo’s role in maximizing or minimizing one’s experience of stress.

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Psychology Commons