effect suggests that animate objects will recalled better than inanimate
objects as humans have a evolutionary drive to remember animate objects better
as it would increase chances of survival. Music has also been shown to
influence memory, with research suggesting lyrical music is the worst for
learning new material in. The study conducted tested both the effect of music
and the Animacy effect to see how both these factors effected memory. The study
used 93 participants, with a repeated measures design. Participants had to
remember a list of 10 objects whist listening to either lyrical or rainfall
music. The results show that animate words were recalled better than inanimate
words and that lyrical music negatively effected recall more than rainfall
music. No interaction effect was found between the two conditions. This
supports previous research.
Whether an object is animate or inanimate and its effect
on memory, and whether lyrical or white noise can also influence memory
The distinction between inanimate and
animate objects is one that has been of much interest to psychologist, as it is
one that even young children are able to make (Gelman, 1990). Gelman (1990)
found that children from the age of 3 where able to distinguish whether
pictures of unknown items or animals were able to move by themselves,
suggesting they could tell the difference between animate and inanimate
objects. This idea that young infants
can distinguish between nonliving and living objects suggestions an evolutionary,
innate basis for this cognitive process. Caramazza and Shelton (2006) supported
the ideas of an evolutionary basis of the distinction between animate and
inanimate object, arguing that there are specific areas of the brain to perform
this function. They found that brain damaged patients could have specific
impairments in distinguishing animals, suggesting that our ability to
distinguish between living and non living objects has a biological basis.
Nairne et al (2013) argued that because
recognizing animate objects was beneficial for
survival, humans would have better memory for these kinds of objects.
They found that memory recall for animate objects was significantly better than
that for inanimate object, suggesting that humans do have a bias to recall
animate objects better. VanAesdall et al (2013) also conducted a study into
whether animate objects had a better recall rate than inanimate objects. They
found that when non words were paired with either animate or inanimate object,
the animate objects were recalled significantly better and quicker in both the
free recall experiments and the cued experiment. This again suggests that
animate objects are recalled better. Previous research therefore suggests that
animate objects should be recalled better than inanimate objects.
Audio and music is another factor that
can affect memory recall. Inwanaga and Ito (2002) tested how memory effects
recall by using for different conditions to see if they affected recall. The
conditions were silent, lyrical, instrumental and natural. They found that
participants in the lyrical condition had significantly worse memory recall
that those in any other condition, suggesting that lyrical music adversely
effects memory. The study also found that in most of the situation, silence
outperformed the other three conditions, suggesting that optimal learning
occurs best when no music is played. Salamé and Baddeley (1988) found that both
instrumental and lyrical music were detrimental to short-term memory, however
lyrical music caused more of a disruption that instrumental music. This again
shows that lyrical music is bad for memory and recall.
and Renkewitz (2011) conducted a meta-analysis into music’s effect on memory
recall and found that any sort of background music adversely effects recall.
They did however find there was no specific effect on memory regarding
background music and this therefore is an area that can be investigated.
The study that is
to be conducted will look at the influence of lyrical vs. a rainfall condition
and see whether they are detrimental or a positive influence in memory recall.
None of the previous research fore mention has used a natural background noise
to compare against lyrical music, which will give this study a unique
comparison between the two condition. As the study will be conducted in a
natural environment, it will be difficult to control for background noise, so
by adding in the rainfall, natural noise allows this element to be
controlled. The study will also look at
the Animacy effect and whether even with the difference in music, whether
animate objects will be recalled better than inanimate objects. It will also
show if there is an interaction between animate and inanimate objects and the
type of music being played.
The first hypothesis is that participants
will remember animate objects better than inanimate objects. This is supported
by previous research (Nairne et al,2013; VanAesdall et al 2013) which suggests
that animate objects are recalled better, possible because the process has an innate
origin. The second hypothesis is that those who listen to the rainfall music
will have better memory recall than those who listen to the lyrical music. This
is because previous research shows that lyrical music is usually the most
detrimental to memory recall (Kampfe, Seflmeier & Renkewitz, 2011).
Finally, as no research has been conducted into the Animacy effect and the
influence of music, it can be predicted that there will not be an interaction.
The study used 93 participants who were
selected at random to take part in the study. Female participants made up 60.2%
of the sample, with men representing 39.8% of the sample. The mean age of
participants was 30.6 years (SD=16.4). As the study was a repeated measures
design, meaning participants completed both conditions, there were no
difference in participants between condition one and condition two. There were no missing data points. The study
requested and was granted ethics approval by the ethics committee at Royal
Holloway University of London.
The study used two stimuli sheets each made
of ten items, five of which were inanimate objects, and the other five were
animate objects (See Appendix A). These were made uniquely for the study. They
were labeled ‘Condition One’ or ‘Condition Two’, which determined which set of
stimuli the participant would see first. Participants were also asked to write
down there demographic information, which in this study meant their age and
sex. Blank sheets of paper were also used for the participants to write down
the 12 times table for the distractor task, and to write down the items they
recalled. The other material used were the two music clips (Rio, 1995; 321
Relaxation, 2014), which were played alongside the stimuli condition to see
whether music had an effect on recall.
There were two conditions for this study,
Stimulus 1 and lyrical music (condition one) and Stimulus 2 and rainfall music
(condition 2). Half the participants did condition one first and then completed
condition two, and half did condition two first and then condition one. This
was to counterbalance any order or boredom effects.
Participants were asked to give their age
and sex and then were given a their first condition, in which they were
instructed to memories as many of the 10 images as they could in 30 seconds.
When the participants saw the images, one of audio clips was played. The images
were then taken away and participants were given a blank sheet of paper and
asked to recall as many of the 12 times tables as they could in a minute. This
was used as a distractor task. After the task was completed, participants were
given a minute to write down as many of the images they remembered. This method
was then repeated for the second condition. The information was then recorded
in terms of how many inanimate and animate objects they remembered as well as
the total number of items remembered.
Design and statistical analysis
The study was an experimental design, with
two independent variables that were both repeated measures. Therefore a two-way
factorial repeated ANOVA was used to analyze the results. As there were only
two levels to the study, no post hoc or planned contrasts were needed. The independent variables in this experiment
were what time of music was played (lyrical or non lyrical) and whether the
image was an animate or inanimate object. The dependent variable was how many
items were correctly recalled.
The results showed that significantly more
animate objects were recalled than inanimate objects
(F(1,92)=22.666,p<0.001). This shows that participants could better remember objects that were animals than those that were just objects. The results also showed that significantly more images were recalled in the rainfall music condition than in the lyrical music condition (F(1,92)=29.609,p<0.001). This shows that participants remembered more words when the rainfall music was played in the background which had no words, compared to when the lyrical music was played. The interaction between the types of stimulus (animate and inanimate) and the type of music condition (lyrical or rainfall) was not significant (f(1,92)=0.456,p=0.501). This shows that the two independent variables had no effect on each other. The means of the animate object condition were 3.78 items (SD=0.93) for the lyrical music and 4.31 items (SD=0.75) for the rainfall condition. The average mean for the animate object condition was 4.05 items (SD=0.88). For the animate condition, the mean for the lyrical music was 4.31 items (SD=0.75) and for the rainfall condition, the mean was 3.87 items (SD=0.91). The overall mean for the inanimate condition was 3.66 items (SD=0.99). The overall mean for the lyrical music was 3.62 items (SD=0.99). The overall mean for the rainfall condition was 4.09 items (SD=0.86). Discussion The results show that there was a significant different between the recall of animate and inanimate objects, with animate objects being better recalled. This is in line with previous research which suggest that animate objects should be recalled better than animate objects. Nairne et al (2013) supports the findings of this study, as they also found that memory was also better for animate objects. VanAesdall et al (2013) also found the same result, when he conducted his Meta analysis, which strengthens the findings of the study. The results of this new piece of research is therefore in line with result already found in the scientific community and therefore adds further support to the idea that animate objects are recalled better than inanimate objects. The results also show that there was a significant different in recall between the two music condition, with those in the lyrical condition remembering less words than in the rainfall condition. These results support previous finding which have found that lyrical music is detrimental to recall. Inwanaga and Ito (2002) found the same result, which was the lyrical music was the worst when it came to memory, which is further supported Kampfe, Seflmeier and Renkewitz (2011) who found that background music, specifically lyrical music was detrimental to recall. The results of this new piece of research is therefore in line with result already found in the scientific community and therefore adds further support to the idea lyrical music is worse than rainfall music when it come to memory recall, and is not beneficial to learning.No interaction effect was found between the type of music and the type of stimuli, which as no previous research has been done in this area, more research would need to be done to see if there is consistently no effect between these two variables. A criticism of this study is the fact that it cannot be said if the participant is actually competing the distractor task or whether they are simply rehearsing the items. This would effect the results as if some participants were rehearsing the results instead of doing the distractor task, this would improve there recall and therefore suggest they had a higher recall then the would have had if they had done the distractor task. To overcome this task, a more complicated task could be given, such as naming past prime minister, or the participants could be asked to say the answers to the distractor task out loud so the experimenter can monitor if they are actually completing the task. This would eliminate this limitation, and ensure that the participants are not in fact rehearsing the information. Another limitation of the method of this study is that the volume of the music was not controlled and therefore may have influenced the results. Szalma and Hancock (2011) found that the louder the music, the lower the recall was. As the level of the music was not standardized, it cannot be said whether some of the results may have been influence by the volume in which the audio was played. If the music was louder in some of the trials, participants may have had lower recall. As more than one researcher conducted the study, it is unlikely that all the audio was played at the same volume. To correct this in future research, a standard volume in which the music should be agreed upon to overcome this limitation and to produce more reliable findings. The findings of this study could have implications on wider society. If lyrical music is not beneficial for recall, then during periods of learning or revision, lyrical music should not be played, instead natural noise such as rainfall would be more beneficial. This may help people learn more effectively. Regarding the Animacy effect, it has little implication on the world today as we are past the stage where knowing the difference between animate and inanimate objects would be advantageous. However it does provide an interesting insight into how humans learn, and how our evolutionary past still has an impact on how we learn today. Further research could be conducted to find out if other types of music are beneficial or not in the learning and recall process and what is the ideal environment to learn in. Classical, instrumental music and white noise might be interesting music types in which to investigate their effect on memory. It would also be interesting to find out if any these types of music had an interaction with the Animacy effect.