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Evaluating the inoculation effect of music on stress reactivity in healthy young and older adults: the moderating role of music absorption

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posted on 23.05.2021, 14:09 by Katlyn J. Peck
Chronic exposure to stress at any age is associated with a myriad of negative physiological and psychological consequences, and as such, development of effective low-cost and non-invasive stress reduction interventions are important. Music listening has been shown to promote faster physiological recovery from acute stress. However, there is a paucity of research examining the potential inoculation effect of music on stress reactivity, as well as potential modifier’s that may influence this effect such as music selection and music absorption. Hence, the current study examined the potential inoculation effect of music in response to acute stress, as measured by a comprehensive set of stress indices. It was hypothesized that listening to music prior to acute stress exposure would decrease stress reactivity compared to white noise (WN), and that self-selected music (SSM) would serve as a stronger inoculator than researcher-selected music (RSM). Finally, it was hypothesized that music absorption would moderate the inoculation effect of music, with a greater decrease in stress reactivity observed in high absorbers. Exploratory sub-groups analyses were also performed to examine any potential age differences in the aforementioned associations. Participants were randomly assigned to either RSM (n = 37), SSM (n = 38), or a WN group (n = 33) and listened to either music or white noise prior to undergoing the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Outcome indices of stress included skin conductance, heart rate, salivary cortisol and self-report affect. Mixed analyses of covariance showed that music listening did not inoculate the stress response compared with WN and SSM did not serve as a more effective inoculator than RSM. A main effect of music absorption was found, suggesting that high absorbers are more reactive than low absorbers. Although the study hypotheses were not supported, exploratory sub-group analyses in older adults suggest that music listening and absorption may modulate the stress response. This study provides new insight into the effect of music listening on stress reactivity and presents a new line of questions that require further investigation.





Doctor of Philosophy



Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type