Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name





Cynthia Laurie-Rose, PhD

First Committee Member

Cynthia Laurie-Rose, PhD

Second Committee Member

Meredith Frey, PhD

Third Committee Member

Margaret Koehler, PhD


Preferred Music, Vigilance, Workload, Order Effect

Subject Categories

Cognition and Perception


Music is found in various aspects of daily life. Many individuals listen to music while completing mentally demanding tasks. The current study aims to explore the relations between music on attention performance and perceived mental workload. Participants completed two identical vigilance tasks under two different conditions, preferred music and silence. Following each vigilance task, participants rated their experience according to the six subscales of the workload index, NASA-TLX, for each condition. Even though we did not observe a main effect of music, there are many robust interactions. Overall, participants performed better (more correct detection, fewer false alarm and faster response latency) in the second vigil presented as compared to the first. However, performance scores in the music conditions remained stable regardless of order, whereas performance scores in the quiet conditions differed greatly. Also self-reported workload ratings decreased as performance improved. These results demonstrate that music may exert facilitative effect over workload and performance and extend our understanding of vigilance performance under the presence of music. Further investigation of the relations between preferred music and performance, as well as the role of music on cognitive performance will provide additional insight into the broader implications of our results.