The Reducing Effect of Relaxing Music on the Increase in State Anxiety over Time, when Controlled for the Influences of Trait Anxiety and Liking of Sound
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Abstract: Background and aim: Although it is common knowledge that music can have an influence on us, this influence is, at least in the case of anxiety, insufficiently examined. The aim of the current study was to investigate if listening to relaxing music can influence the level of anxiety after being confronted to a stressor, when corrected for the influence of trait anxiety and how much the participants liked the sound. Method: A non-clinical sample of 44 participants, 33 (75%) of which were women and with a mean age of 23.45 (SD = 5.99), were asked to fill out the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and to enter in an experiment in which they watched an anxiety-inducing film clip of a car crash while listening to relaxing music, white noise or silence. Results: Results showed that in the overall model, there was a main effect of time, but no main effect of condition or interaction effect. When trait anxiety was considered as a covariate, there were no significant effects. When how much the participant liked the sound was considered as a covariate, there was a main effect of condition, revealing that the participants experienced significantly less state anxiety in the white noise condition in comparison to the music condition. There was also a main effect of time and an interaction effect between time and how much the participant liked the sound, indicating that how much the participant liked the sound is a significant covariate, but no interaction effect between time and condition. Conclusion and discussion: The major strength of the current study is the addition of the new white noise control condition, adding something new to the existing literature. There are influences of sound on anxiety, but not the influences that would have been expected. New knowledge is obtained in the current study, but there are still blank spaces. In future research, one has to consider the mentioned suggestions in order to fill in these blank spaces and to find out what is really the influence of music on anxiety.