A meta-analysis on the effects of music as reinforcement for education/therapy objectives
Standley, J.M. (1996). A meta-analysis on the effects of music as reinforcement for education/therapy objectives. Journal of Research in Music Education, 44(2), 105-133.
The purpose of the study meta-analysis was to examine the effectiveness of music as a reward (or removal of music as a punishment) in education and therapy settings. Music initiation, participation, or interruption as a reward/punishment for behavior change is an established education/therapy technique. This study used meta-analytical techniques to evaluate 208 variables/outcomes derived from 98 studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Findings show that music can serve as a strong motivator for behavioral improvements, and that the effect of music as a reward was diminished when other rewards (e.g., food, verbal approvals, visual stimuli) were offered.
Music is highly effective as a motivator for either increasing desirable behavior or decreasing undesirable behavior. Music is more effective than other non-music stimuli or continuous music, and pairing music with other positive reinforcements (e.g., food, verbal approval) decreases its effectiveness. In this study, music-based rewards (e.g., getting guitar lessons for positive behavior) were more effective in physical rehabilitation and with developmental behaviors than medical or educational behaviors. Additionally, adults and infants responded best to music as a reward with the effects declining from childhood through the primary- and secondary-school years.