Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jose Cortina


This study explores the relationship between music and creativity. Prior research has conflicting results with some finding that music does influence creativity and some reporting no relationship and others finding that music is harmful to creativity. All of these studies, however, have largely focused on the presence vs. absence of music without consideration for the characteristics (i.e., musical key, tempo, etc.) that make up the sound we identify as music and their unique effects on us emotionally, physically, and cognitively. This dissertation contends that different characteristics of music influence different components of creativity (i.e., novelty and usefulness) through their effects on executive functions—working memory and inhibitory control. The hypotheses presented in this dissertation were tested in a 2x2 between-subject lab experiment with two different control groups (i.e., nature sounds and no audio) using 436 undergraduate students. The results provide support for the physiological and affective consequences of musical key and tempo. However, measures of creativity were unrelated with the proposed mediating mechanisms, making any conclusions about the effects of music characteristics on creativity difficult to draw. Reasons for this are discussed. It can be said, however, that it does appear that music is not harmful creativity as reported by previous studies. Directions for future research are also discussed.


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Available for download on Tuesday, May 07, 2024