Listening to Mozart does not improve children's spatial ability: Final curtains for the Mozart effect


School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand (e-mail:


We investigated the Mozart effect, as documented by Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993), with school-aged children. Experiment 1 contrasted the spatial IQ scores of children who had listened to a Mozart sonata (K.448) with the scores of children who had listened to a piece of popular dance music in a pretest-post-test design. There was no significant main effect of music and no significant difference between the pretest and post-test scores for both groups. Owing to the non-significant findings, a second experiment was carried out. We used a methodology that had previously replicated the Mozart effect. Again, Expt. 2 did not support the claim that Mozart's music can enhance spatial performance. Groups performed similarly on the control test and the experimental test, irrespective of whether they listened to Mozart or to popular dance music. Since the two different designs produced similar findings, the data suggest that the Mozart effect is so ephemeral that it is questionable as to whether any practical application will come from it. In the discussion, we suggest more fruitful avenues for future research on the relationship between music and spatial performance: arousal and transfer of learning.