Music, Emotion, and Self-Control: Does Listening to Uplifting Music Replenish Self-Control Strength for Exercise?


  • This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Steven R. Bray, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, 1280 Main St. W., Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1. E-mail:


The study investigated the effects of listening to self-selected uplifting music on positive emotional states and self-control. The participants (n = 72; Mage 22.26 ± 5.97) performed two endurance handgrip squeezes separated by a varied set of experimental manipulations. In two conditions, participants performed a Stroop (self-control depletion) task and then either listened to self-selected uplifting music or rested quietly. Controls performed a reading task and then rested quietly. Listening to uplifting music evoked positive emotional states, F(2, 69) = 6.98, p = .002, partial η2 = .71; however, participants in both self-control depletion conditions performed worse than controls on the exercise task (p ≤ .07). Findings support the strength model of self-control but raise questions about the effects of positive emotional states on self-control.