The Mozart Effect Myth: Listening to Classical Music Won't Make You Smarter

You've probably heard that listening to classical music can sharpen your mind through a phenomenon known as the Mozart Effect. You may have even heard that playing classical music for babies, or even putting headphones on pregnant women's bellies, can make for smarter kids later on. Unfortunately, that's all based on one study from the '90s—a study that didn't even say what the media thinks it said.

Good Science, Bad Media

In 1993, a paper published in the journal Nature found that college students had improved test scores if they listened to Mozart. When the media caught wind of this, they ran with it: listening to Mozart makes you smarter! Tell the world!

Unfortunately, that's not what the paper said. For one thing, the college students were only tested on spatial intelligence—the kind required for folding paper or solving a maze—and improvements to one type of intelligence aren't generally thought to extend to other types. Also, the improvements only lasted around 15 minutes. That's not exactly a long-term effect.

Mozart Effect, Schmozart Effect

Ten years later, a team of researchers gathered nearly 40 studies that had been conducted on the so-called Mozart Effect in the most comprehensive meta-analysis performed to date. Titled "Mozart Effect-Shmozart Effect," the meta-analysis found little evidence that classical music improves performance on specific tasks and zero evidence that it actually improves your intelligence.

Of course, this hasn't stopped manufacturers from marketing books, CDs, DVDs, and other materials claiming to make you or your children smarter through the power of classical music. To learn more about why the Mozart Effect doesn't hold water, check out the videos below.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Content About The Mozart Effect

The Mozart Effect Doesn't Exist

Here's why classical music won't make you smarter.

Does Classical Music In The Womb Make Babies Smarter?

Find out whether it's worthwhile to put headphones on a pregnant belly.

Can We Trust Science?

With so many studies proving to be false, who can we trust?

Written by Ashley Hamer August 21, 2016

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