Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Music Education and Music Therapy (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Teresa Lesiuk

Second Committee Member

Shannon K. de l’Etoile

Third Committee Member

Carlos Abril

Fourth Committee Member

Mitsunori Ogihara


The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the ways in which individuals use music during a high-cognitive demand task – computer programming. This thesis also examined relationships among music-use, personality, and mood. Thirty-four university students with varying levels of computer programming experience participated in the study. Initially, participants completed a demographic questionnaire and personality inventory during an individual meeting with the researcher. The second portion of the study was completed using a study webpage, in which participants submitted responses to a mood scale, task assessment, and music-use questionnaire. The mood scale was completed immediately prior to a computer programming task accompanied by music listening, and the music-use questionnaire was completed immediately after the task. The music-use questionnaire consisted of a music-use scale, two open-ended items, and questions about the listening experience. Music-use during a computer programming task appears to be a complex process, being impacted by individual differences and contextual factors. Bivariate correlations were used to examine relationships between study variables. Results indicated several significant relationships. First, the personality factor of Openness was positively correlated with both Cognitive and Emotional-use of music, and the relationship between Openness and Cognitive-use was supported in a predictive model. No significant correlations were found between any of the mood and music-use variables. However, some of the demographic and contextual factors were significantly correlated with music-use. Computer programming proficiency was positively correlated with Emotional-use of music. Next, music activity level, listening duration, and music focus were each positively correlated Cognitive-use of music, while computer programming background and task difficulty were each negatively correlated with Cognitive-use. An analysis of variance revealed a significant effect of computer programming background on Cognitive-use of music. The themes that emerged in open-ended responses from this study generally supported the quantitative results obtained. Participant statements typically related to one of the music-use categories, and the distribution of responses was similar to the distribution of scores on the music-use scale. In addition to utilizing words related to the music-use categories, participants employed specific language to describe the type of music they chose and its influence on overall productivity.


music; music use; personality; mood; high cognitive demand; computer programming