Listening to Classical Music Results in a Positive Correlation Between Spatial Reasoning and Mindfulness

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Abstract

Music-based interventions have become increasingly popular. However, little is known about the effect of music on spatial reasoning skills and mindfulness. Further, even less is known about how classical music influences the ability of African Americans to enhance spatial reasoning skills and to develop mindfully attentive awareness. Mindfulness is defined as the state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present moment. Spatial reasoning refers to the ability to mentally manipulate objects or physically navigate through space. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether these concepts were correlated by analyzing posttest data collected from individuals exposed to a receptive music program for various lengths of time (30 min, 3, 6, and 12 weeks, respectively). Seventy-six African Americans ranging from 18 to 65 years of age (M = 26) participated in our research. We predicted that daily, long-term listening to classical music would lead to a positive relationship between mindfulness measured using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) and spatial reasoning measured using the Spatial Ability Practice Test 1 (SAPT1). A statistically significant moderate correlation (r(17) = .495, p = .026) was observed between MAAS and SAPT1 posttest scores for participants in the 12-week condition. A repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance also indicated a statistically significant difference between mindfulness and spatial ability scores on the combined dependent measures obtained from individuals in each music condition (F(3, 72) = 42.812, Wilk’s Lambda = .975, p = .001, partial eta-squared = .372). Post hoc test showed that scores obtained for the 30-min and 12-week conditions were significantly different, as were scores from the 3-week and 12-week conditions (Tukey, HSD). Our findings supported the hypothesis tested, and the results have implications in higher education and other professions.

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