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The Mozart Effect: Does Mozart Make You Smarter?


In the October 14, 1993 issue of Nature magazine, UC Irvine researchers Frances Rauscher, Gordon Shaw, and Katherine Ky published a short, one-page article entitled “Music and spatial task performance,” which detailed their research involving exposing college students to 10 minutes of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K. 448), a relaxation tape, or silence, followed by a test on spatial reasoning, taken from the Stanford-Binet intelligence test. Their research showed a statistically significant rise in scores from those students who had listened to the Mozart sonata. The popular response was phenomenal.

Newspapers around the country christened their finding “the Mozart effect,” and the Mozart recording used in the study quickly sold out in the Boston area (Shaw 2000, 5). In Georgia, Governor Zell Miller became so enthralled at the results of the study that, with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” playing in the background, he called for the legislature to allocate $105,000 to give a free classical music tape or CD to every new mother in the state (AAAS 1998). Tennessee soon followed suit with a similar bill; Florida now requires day-care centers to play classical music, and a New York community college now has a “Mozart effect study room” (Gladwell 2000). Classical music radio stations latched on to the idea, one publishing a letter in its newsletter from a listener who claims that she turned on the station and “immediately, my test scores improved” (Brin 1998, 11). A cottage industry sprung up, as Don Campbell (a long-time advocate of music therapy) had the foresight to trademark “The Mozart Effect,” adding fuel to the fire by publishing a book by that title. The book actually only devotes two and a half pages 3 to the UC Irvine study, the rest of its pages filled with anecdotes, pseudoscience, and conjecture. One chapter even claims that music can alleviate AIDS, allergies, and Diabetes (Campbell 1997, 226-252)! A recent cursory search on turned up half a dozen compact disc titles, with names like “Better Thinking Through Mozart,” “Mozart for Your Mind,” a whole series of “Music for the Mozart Effect,” and even “Ultrasound—Music for the Unborn Child” (featuring Mozart’s music).

Is this intense reaction justified? Even the original researchers agree that the media have over-inflated the findings. One, Gordon Shaw, recently released a book, Keeping Mozart in Mind, which largely has the goal of communicating the real importance of his research to laypeople who have been led astray by the media-fed frenzy. His colleague, Frances Rauscher, has repeatedly denounced the over-reaction in the popular press. “I' m horrified and very surprised—over what has happened,” she said. “It’s a very giant leap to think that if music has a short-term effect on college students that it will produce smarter children. When we published the study results, we didn' t think anyone would care. The whole thing has really gotten out of hand” (Jones 1999). In particular, she criticizes people who claim that children should listen to Mozart to make them smarter: “I think the evidence is solid enough to say, ‘Let’s improve and expand our music education programs for young children,” but there is no evidence that just listening to music will do anything. “One of the things we have to be careful about is jumping to conclusions that we don’t have data on at all…I find that ‘Mozart makes you smarter’ thing is quite a bit of a leap.” (Viadero 1998). Others have noted that, while some of Don Campbell’s claims are backed up by research in music therapy, “if Mozart’s music were able to improve heath, why was Mozart himself so frequently sick?” (Linton 1999).

Attempts to Replicate the First Experiment Although the media have exaggerated the extent of their findings, even Rauscher and Shaw were surprised that there would be such an easily measurable difference in spatialreasoning task level after such a short exposure to the music. As a result, both they and other researchers have attempted several times to replicate the findings of the 1993 experiment, to assess its validity and determine the extent of the “Mozart effect.”

Luke Swartz
28.9K GSRs

Treatise of Human Nature

All the perceptions of the human mind fall into two distinct kinds, which I shall call ‘impressions’ and ‘ideas’. These differ in the degrees of force and liveliness with which they strike upon the mind and make their way into our thought or consciousness. The perceptions that enter with most force and violence we may name ‘impressions’; and under this name I bring all our sensations, passions, and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soul [= ‘mind’; no religious implications]. By ‘ideas’ I mean the faint images of the others in thinking and reasoning: for example, all the perceptions aroused by your reading this book—apart from perceptions arising from sight and touch, and apart from the immediate pleasure or uneasiness your reading may cause in you. I don’t think I need to say much to explain this distinction: everyone will readily perceive for himself the difference between feeling (·impressions·) and thinking (·ideas·). The usual degrees ·of intensity· of these are easily distinguished, though there may be particular instances where they come close to one another. Thus, in sleep, in a fever, in madness, or in any very violent emotions of soul, our ideas may become like our impressions; as on the other hand it sometimes happens that our impressions are so faint and low that we can’t distinguish them from our ideas. But although ideas and impressions are fairly similar in a few cases, they are in general so very different that no-one can hesitate to classify them as different and to give to each a special name to mark the difference.

Another division of our perceptions should be noted; this one cuts across the line between impressions and ideas. It is the division into simple and complex. Simple perceptions— that is, simple impressions and ideas—are ones that don’t allow any distinction or separation ·among their parts·. Complex perceptions, on the contrary, can be distinguished into parts. Though a particular colour, taste, and smell, are qualities all united together in this apple, it’s easy to perceive that they aren’t the same as one another and can least be distinguished from each other—·and so one’s total perception of the apple is complex·.

Having through these divisions ordered and arranged our subject-matter (·perceptions·), we can now set ourselves to consider more accurately their qualities and relations. The first fact that springs to my attention is that our impressions greatly resemble our ideas in every respect except their degree of force and liveliness. Perceptions of one kind seem to be, in a way, reflections of perceptions of the other kind; so that all the perceptions of the mind do double duty, appearing both as impressions and as ideas. When I shut my eyes and think of my study, the ideas I form are exact representations of the impressions I felt ·when I was in my study·; every detail in one is to be found in the other. And I find the same resemblance and representation when I survey my other perceptions: ideas and impressions seem always to correspond to each other. This remarkable fact holds my attention for a moment.

Surveying the field more accurately, I find I have been swept along by how things first appeared to me, and that I must—with help from the simple/complex distinction—limit this general thesis that all our ideas and impressions are resembling. I observe that many of our complex ideas never had impressions that corresponded to them: I can imagine a city such as the New Jerusalem, with golden pavements and ruby walls, though I never saw such a thing. And I observe that many of our complex impressions are never exactly copied by ideas: I have seen Paris, but I can’t form an idea of that city that perfectly represents all its streets and houses in all their detail.

So I perceive that although there is in general a great resemblance between our complex impressions and ideas, it is not true across the board that they are exact copies of each other. Now let us consider how the case stands with our simple perceptions. After the most accurate examination I am capable of, I venture to say that here the rule holds without exception: that every simple idea has a simple impression that resembles it, and every simple impression has a corresponding idea. The idea of red that we form in the dark differs only in degree ·of intensity·, not in nature, from the impression ·of red· that strikes our eyes in sunshine. You can satisfy yourself that I am right about this by going over as many of your simple impressions and ideas as you like; it’s impossible to prove my point by going over all of them! But if anyone should deny this universal resemblance ·between simple impressions and simple ideas·, I don’t know how to convince him except by asking him to show •a simple impression that doesn’t have a corresponding idea, or •a simple idea that has no corresponding impression. If he doesn’t answer this challenge—and it’s certain that he can’t—then his silence and our own observation will suffice to establish our conclusion.

Thus we find that all simple ideas and impressions resemble each other; and as the complex are formed from simple ones we can say generally that these two sorts of perception exactly correspond. Having uncovered this relation, which requires no further examination, I am curious to find some of the other qualities ·of impressions and ideas·. Let us consider what brings them into existence: as between impressions and ideas, which are causes and which are effects?

David Hume
24.6M GSRs

The Brothers Karamazov

Part I

Book I. The History Of A Family

Chapter I. Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov

Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov, a land owner well known in our district in his own day, and still remembered among us owing to his gloomy and tragic death, which happened thirteen years ago, and which I shall describe in its proper place. For the present I will only say that this “landowner”—for so we used to call him, although he hardly spent a day of his life on his own estate—was a strange type, yet one pretty frequently to be met with, a type abject and vicious and at the same time senseless. But he was one of those senseless persons who are very well capable of looking after their worldly affairs, and, apparently, after nothing else. Fyodor Pavlovitch, for instance, began with next to nothing; his estate was of the smallest; he ran to dine at other men's tables, and fastened on them as a toady, yet at his death it appeared that he had a hundred thousand roubles in hard cash. At the same time, he was all his life one of the most senseless, fantastical fellows in the whole district. I repeat, it was not stupidity—the majority of these fantastical fellows are shrewd and intelligent enough—but just senselessness, and a peculiar national form of it.

He was married twice, and had three sons, the eldest, Dmitri, by his first wife, and two, Ivan and Alexey, by his second. Fyodor Pavlovitch's first wife, Adelaïda Ivanovna, belonged to a fairly rich and distinguished noble family, also landowners in our district, the Miüsovs. How it came to pass that an heiress, who was also a beauty, and moreover one of those vigorous, intelligent girls, so common in this generation, but sometimes also to be found in the last, could have married such a worthless, puny weakling, as we all called him, I won't attempt to explain. I knew a young lady of the last “romantic” generation who after some years of an enigmatic passion for a gentleman, whom she might quite easily have married at any moment, invented insuperable obstacles to their union, and ended by throwing herself one stormy night into a rather deep and rapid river from a high bank, almost a precipice, and so perished, entirely to satisfy her own caprice, and to be like Shakespeare's Ophelia. Indeed, if this precipice, a chosen and favorite spot of hers, had been less picturesque, if there had been a prosaic flat bank in its place, most likely the suicide would never have taken place. This is a fact, and probably there have been not a few similar instances in the last two or three generations. Adelaïda Ivanovna Miüsov's action was similarly, no doubt, an echo of other people's ideas, and was due to the irritation caused by lack of mental freedom. She wanted, perhaps, to show her feminine independence, to override class distinctions and the despotism of her family. And a pliable imagination persuaded her, we must suppose, for a brief moment, that Fyodor Pavlovitch, in spite of his parasitic position, was one of the bold and ironical spirits of that progressive epoch, though he was, in fact, an ill-natured buffoon and nothing more. What gave the marriage piquancy was that it was preceded by an elopement, and this greatly captivated Adelaïda Ivanovna's fancy. Fyodor Pavlovitch's position at the time made him specially eager for any such enterprise, for he was passionately anxious to make a career in one way or another. To attach himself to a good family and obtain a dowry was an alluring prospect. As for mutual love it did not exist apparently, either in the bride or in him, in spite of Adelaïda Ivanovna's beauty. This was, perhaps, a unique case of the kind in the life of Fyodor Pavlovitch, who was always of a voluptuous temper, and ready to run after any petticoat on the slightest encouragement. She seems to have been the only woman who made no particular appeal to his senses.

Immediately after the elopement Adelaïda Ivanovna discerned in a flash that she had no feeling for her husband but contempt. The marriage accordingly showed itself in its true colors with extraordinary rapidity. Although the family accepted the event pretty quickly and apportioned the runaway bride her dowry, the husband and wife began to lead a most disorderly life, and there were everlasting scenes between them. It was said that the young wife showed incomparably more generosity and dignity than Fyodor Pavlovitch, who, as is now known, got hold of all her money up to twenty-five thousand roubles as soon as she received it, so that those thousands were lost to her for ever. The little village and the rather fine town house which formed part of her dowry he did his utmost for a long time to transfer to his name, by means of some deed of conveyance. He would probably have succeeded, merely from her moral fatigue and desire to get rid of him, and from the contempt and loathing he aroused by his persistent and shameless importunity. But, fortunately, Adelaïda Ivanovna's family intervened and circumvented his greediness. It is known for a fact that frequent fights took place between the husband and wife, but rumor had it that Fyodor Pavlovitch did not beat his wife but was beaten by her, for she was a hot tempered, bold, dark-browed, impatient woman, possessed of remarkable physical strength. Finally, she left the house and ran away from Fyodor Pavlovitch with a destitute divinity student, leaving Mitya, a child of three years old, in her husband's hands.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
2.02M GSRs

The Mozart Effect: Tracking the Evolution of a Scientific Legend

Theories of the diffusion of ideas in social psychology converge on the assumption that shared beliefs (e.g., social representations, rumours and legends) propagate because they address the needs or concerns of social groups. But little empirical research exists demonstrating this link. We report three media studies of the diffusion of a scientific legend as a particular kind of shared belief. We studied the Mozart effect (ME), the idea that listening to classical music enhances intelligence. Study 1 showed that the ME elicited more persistent media attention than other science reports and this attention increased when the ME was manifested in events outside of science. Study 2 suggested that diffusion of the ME may have responded to varying levels of collective anxiety. Study 3 demonstrated how the content of the ME evolved during diffusion. The results provide evidence for the functionality of diffusion of ideas and initial elements for a model of the emergence and evolution of scientific legends.

The problem of how ideas spread within and between social groups is an important element of understanding culture, social stability and social change, but it has remained an under explored topic in social psychology. This is partly due to mainstream social psychology’s emphasis on experimental research. Experimental social psychology has contributed much to the understanding of behavioural and attitude change in individuals, but the processes involved in the diffusion of ideas often occur on a time scale that precludes experimental study.

Social psychology and the diffusion of ideas
Not that there is no interest in how ideas spread. Indeed, some approaches advocate the study of ideas and their spread as a central focus of social psychology (e.g., Bartlett, 1932; Fraser & Gaskell, 1990; Moscovici, 1984; Sperber, 1990). Moreover, they converge on key assumptions. In particular, many of them assume that the spread of ideas is functional, in that they spread because they fulfil a motivational need of an individual or a group. For example, social representations are postulated to help laypersons symbolically cope with unfamiliar and potentially menacing scientific and technological innovations (Wagner, Kronberger, & Seifert, 2002), or rumours are assumed to spread in response to uncertainty and anxiety (Allport & Postman, 1947). But critics (Jost & Ignatow, 2001) have noted that these assumptions have remained largely untested.

Here, we provide evidence for functional claims in social representations by investigating a particular class of representation, a scientific legend. Scientific legends are widespread beliefs (Fraser & Gaskell, 1990) derived from science that diffuse and stabilize in lay culture (Moscovici, 1992). They are a particularly interesting class of social representation because their origins can be located specifically enough to study the entire life-cycle of their evolution and diffusion. We studied the Mozart effect (ME), the idea that exposure to classical music (especially the music of Mozart) improves intelligence. Originally based on controversial scientific results, it has enjoyed widespread popularity because it promises a potential solution to a perplexing social and parental concern: how to ensure the intellectual development and growth of children. Our findings suggest that ideas may indeed diffuse and evolve to meet the functional needs of social groups.

Theories of the diffusion of ideas
In this section, we review three major theoretical approaches to the diffusion of ideas. We then highlight converging theoretical predictions about the functional nature of social ideas and define ‘scientific legends’.

Social representations: Popularization of science
Social representations theory (see Deaux & Philogène, 2001; Farr & Moscovici, 1984; Flick, 1998a) emphasizes the social processes by which expert knowledge, especially science and technology, is transformed into common sense. Scientific research and technological innovations are diffused in the media or introduced into everyday routines. These ideas and technologies are often confusing to the lay public. Moreover, they may challenge existing social practices, beliefs or ideologies, thus threatening social identity and creating resistance (Bauer, 1995; Biotechnology and the European Public Concerted Action group, 1997).

Social representations arise through the efforts of groups to ‘cope’ symbolically with these unfamiliar ideas and practices (Wagner et al., 2002). They result from the assimilation of scientific knowledge into pre-existing schemes of thought. For example, psychoanalysis is assimilated to the religious rite of confession (Moscovici, 1961), madness is anchored in folk theories of organic illness (Jodelet, 1991), AIDS is conceptualized as a divine punishment for homosexuality (Markovà & Wilkie, 1987), genes are thought to be injected into genetically modified food and to be ‘contagious’ to humans (Wagner et al., 2002), and sex-role stereotypes from everyday interaction are used to interpret the mating behaviour of animals (Green Staerklé & Clémence, 2002) or the interaction between sperm and ovum during conception (Bangerter, 2000; Wagner, Elejabarrieta, & Lahnsteiner, 1995).

In summary, social representations may allow lay communities to cope with the unfamiliar discourse of science and technology by anchoring it in more familiar concepts from everyday life. But the idea that social representations function to reduce uncertainty and threat to social identity has been criticized for lack of evidence. Jost and Ignatow (2001) argue that the descriptive approach taken in most such work, focusing on the content of social representations, does not constitute support for claims about their functions, writing that ‘at present, the most interesting functional claims are untested’ (p. 197).

Adrian Bangerter & Chip Heath
2.24M GSRs

Provocation in Philosophy and Art


Provocation is an integral part of Socrates’ philosophical method. Does provocation have a similar methodological function in art? My tentative answer is no. In the Socratic method, provocation is used both on an individual level to force a person to think better (preferably in ethical matters) and on a general level in order to keep a society awake. A society should never rest but “be stirred into life.” Philosophy is a teleological practice with truth or enlightenment as its telos. Art has no well-defined telos, the place and use of provocation in art is therefore debatable. But for art to be something rather than anything, I argue that a provocative work of art has to provide for the aesthetic qualities of how the provocation is performed. Provocation without instrumental qualities is atypical inphilosophy, whereas provocation without intrinsic qualities is atypical in art. Using this as a normative guide, we may claim that instrumental success is more important than intrinsic success in philosophy and that the opposite holds for art, as far as provocation is concerned. I conclude by commenting on two Swedish examples of provocation in art from this perspective.

Dan Egonsson, Lund University, Sweden
132K GSRs