Piecing It Together: The Effect of Background Music on Children’s Puzzle Assembly

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This study explored the effects of background music on cognitive (puzzle assembly) task performance in young children. Participants were 87 primarily European-American children (38 boys, 49 girls; mean age = 4.77 years) enrolled in early childhood classes in the northeastern United States. Children were given one minute to complete a 12-piece puzzle task in one of three background music conditions: music with lyrics, music without lyrics, and no music. The music selection was “You’re Welcome” from the Disney movie “Moana.” Results revealed that children who heard the music without lyrics completed more puzzle pieces than children in either the music with lyrics or no music condition. Background music without distracting lyrics may be beneficial and superior to background music with lyrics for young children’s cognitive performance even when they are engaged independently in a nonverbal task.

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