The popular myth of the “Mozart Effect” was popularized by a 1993 study published in Nature by the University of California at Irvine. In the study, 36 students listened to 10 minutes of Mozart before taking a spatial IQ test and the researchers claimed that this temporarily increased the students’ average spatial IQ by 8 points. However, there are several problems with this study and the media’s portrayal of its results.
Firstly, the researchers only claimed that Mozart increased the subjects’ abilities in specific spatial-temporal tasks, not their general IQ. The media over-exaggerated the results, claiming that listening to Mozart makes a person smarter in general. Additionally, the study only showed an increase in IQ for 15 minutes. There is no research to date that shows listening to Mozart, or any other music, can permanently boost IQ.
The study also had a small sample size, which makes it difficult to filter out noise and replicate the results. In fact, several research projects have found no evidence of the “Mozart Effect.” However, a few studies have shown some evidence of the effect.
One team of researchers concluded in 1999 that any cognitive enhancement from listening to Mozart was small and came from the “enjoyment arousal” of the subjects. This simply means that if a person is enjoying themselves, they will perform better on certain tasks. Another study showed that listening to Mozart only boosted performance in spatial-temporal tasks for those who enjoyed listening to it.
Further research by William Forde Thompson, Gabriela Husain, and Glenn Schellenberg in 2001 backed up the claim that the results were based on the subject’s enjoyment and mood, not the music itself. When subjects listened to upbeat Mozart pieces, their mood and energy levels increased and so did their results, but when they listened to a more depressing piece of music, their moods and results went down.
In conclusion, money spent on products like Baby Genius would be better spent on music lessons for kids, as there is a vast amount of research that shows music lessons improve various aspects of a child’s development, including their intelligence. The boost from music lessons is also significantly higher than the most optimistic claims of the “Mozart Effect.”