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Music | Psychology


This study looked at the how plainchant affects the body on a physiological and emotional level. The study took the clinical findings of Sister Ruth Stanley (that chant has a relaxing effect in terms of heart rate variance) and attempted to replicate these results in an experimental setting. The design utilized heart rate variance, along with subjective measures of emotion, to help determine whether chant was an empirically viable candidate for music theapy. Emotional responses were divided into four quadrants based on the valence/arousal model of emotion. 29 participants were exposed to chant along with four samples of music chosen to elicit normative responses, including one that would be theoretically useful for music therapy. The results showed that chant did positively impact heart rate variance, but no more than any other musical sample. It is postulated that an increased familiarity with chant might lead to a more restful response both physiologically and emotionally.


Faculty Advisors: Brian Campbell, John-Bede Pauley OSB, Pamela Bacon, Edward Turley.