Mozart music does not make any sense

Psychologists vote swansong on "Mozart Effect"

"Mozart effect" not detectable © Uni Wien
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For years, scientists have argued about allegedly intelligence-enhancing effects by listening to classical music. Now, Viennese researchers report in the journal "Intelligence" that this so-called "Mozart effect" does not exist. Because the results of their new study show that specific performance increases by simply listening to Mozart's music are undetectable.

In 1993, a research team led by US psychologist Frances H. Rauscher published in Nature a report on improved intelligence performance after listening to Mozart's music. According to this, listening to the sonata for two pianos in D major, composed in 1781 by Mozart - KV 448 - has short-term performance-enhancing effects on the spatial conception.

Mozart's music as a miracle cure

Seldom did a scientific study attract so much public interest: Mozart's music was hailed as a panacea for raising children's IQ. In 1998, the then Governor of the State of Georgia, Cell Miller, ordered every mother of a newborn to receive a Class CD for free.

The Disenchantment of the Myth "Mozart Effect"

By contrast, the results of researchers were received with great skepticism. Attempts by peers to achieve this effect using the same methods failed. Jakob Pietschnig, Martin Voracek and Anton K. Formann from the Institute of Psychological Basic Research of the University of Vienna present the results of their new meta-analysis on the Mozart effect.

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No increase in cognitive performance

A statistical analysis of the total available research literature of 39 studies with more than 3, 000 subjects on this topic showed no music-specific effect on spatial perception.

"I recommend everyone to listen to Mozart's music, but the expectation of achieving an increase in their own cognitive performance can not be fulfilled, " explains Pietschnig. The effect of the postulated Mozart effect in nature was not substantiated in subsequent studies.

One of the biggest myths of psychology

Thus, the researchers of the University of Vienna reveal this as a myth - and at the same time confirm American psychologists, who lead the Mozart effect as number six of the 50 greatest myths of popular psychology.

(idw - University of Vienna, 05.05.2010 - DLO)