Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Music Education and Music Therapy (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Teresa Lesiuk

Second Committee Member

Shannon de l'Etoile

Third Committee Member

Patrice Saab


The effect of participant-selected music listening on pain perception, pain tolerance, and attention to pain was evaluated during a cold-pressor pain protocol. Participants (N=50) underwent two, ice-water hand immersions in a music condition and a silence condition. Participants were asked to engage in active music listening of their choice during the cold-pressor music condition. The researcher collected a pain tolerance hand-immersion time, while participants self-reported on pain perception and attention to pain. Results showed that participants reported significantly less pain perception and attention to pain, and greater pain tolerance time under the music condition than in the silence condition. The positive results are attributed to the ability of participant-selected music to effectively engage attention. The participant-selected music choices were analyzed for musical attributes that served as possible predictors for influencing attention to pain. Of the five attributes analyzed including activation, tempo, mood, lyrics, and preference, only preference yielded significant results in diminishing attention to pain. Conclusions are made as to the influence of music on attention, pain tolerance, and pain perception, and support is given for preferred music as an effective means to engage attention for pain management.


music and pain; music listening; preferred music; pain management; pain perception; pain tolerance; attention