This article is part of the Research Topic Changing the Brain through Music: Genes or Environment?

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 30 April 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00222

Music training, cognition, and personality

  • Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Mississauga, Misissauga, ON, Canada

Although most studies that examined associations between music training and cognitive abilities had correlational designs, the prevailing bias is that music training causes improvements in cognition. It is also possible, however, that high-functioning children are more likely than other children to take music lessons, and that they also differ in personality. We asked whether individual differences in cognition and personality predict who takes music lessons and for how long. The participants were 118 adults (Study 1) and 167 10- to 12-year-old children (Study 2). We collected demographic information and measured cognitive ability and the Big Five personality dimensions. As in previous research, cognitive ability was associated with musical involvement even when demographic variables were controlled statistically. Novel findings indicated that personality was associated with musical involvement when demographics and cognitive ability were held constant, and that openness-to-experience was the personality dimension with the best predictive power. These findings reveal that: (1) individual differences influence who takes music lessons and for how long, (2) personality variables are at least as good as cognitive variables at predicting music training, and (3) future correlational studies of links between music training and non-musical ability should account for individual differences in personality.

Keywords: music training, music lessons, cognition, personality, individual differences

Citation: Corrigall KA, Schellenberg EG and Misura NM (2013) Music training, cognition, and personality. Front. Psychol. 4:222. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00222

Received: 21 January 2013; Paper pending published: 19 March 2013;
Accepted: 11 April 2013; Published online: 30 April 2013.

Edited by:

Sarah J. Wilson, University of Melbourne, Australia

Reviewed by:

Mireille Besson, Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives de la Meditarranée, France
Joel Snyder, University of Nevada Las Vegas, USA

Copyright: © 2013 Corrigall, Schellenberg and Misura. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: E. Glenn Schellenberg, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Road North, Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6, Canada. e-mail: g.schellenberg@utoronto.ca

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