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The Science and Psychology of Music

From Beethoven at the Office to Beyoncé at the Gym

by William Forde Thompson and Kirk N. Olsen, Editors


Few activities fully engage the brain. Listening to music is one of them. Hearing your favorite song activates sensory, emotional, motor, and creative areas of the brain simultaneously.

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Cover image for The Science and Psychology of Music

September 2020


Pages 344
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Psychology/General
  Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts
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This book provides a broad introduction to the scientific and psychological study of music, exploring how music is processed by our brains, affects us emotionally, shapes our personal and cultural identities, and can be used in therapeutic and educational contexts.

Why are some people tone deaf and others musical savants? What do our musical preferences say about our personality and the culture in which we were raised? Why do certain songs remind us so strongly of particular people, places, or events? How can music be therapeutically used to help those with autism, Parkinson's, and other medical conditions? The Science and Psychology of Music: From Beethoven at the Office to Beyoncé at the Gym answers these and other questions.

This book provides a broad and accessible introduction to the fascinating field of music psychology. Despite its name, music psychology includes a number of fields, including neuroscience, psychology, social psychology, sociology, and health. Through a collection of thematically organized chapters, readers will discover how our brains recognize elements of music, how music can affect us and shape our identities, and the many real-world applications for such information.


  • Explores a topic that is of great interest to both psychology students and the general public through accessible and engaging content
  • Provides a conceptual framework for readers and through a multi-part format allows them to focus their attention on their particular areas of interest
  • Furthers readers' understanding of how music can affect our wellbeing as it includes both our physical and psychological health
  • Reflects the subject knowledge of contributing experts in a wide variety of academic disciplines
Author Info

William Forde Thompson, PhD, is distinguished professor of psychology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He is author of Music, Thought and Feeling: Understanding the Psychology of Music, second edition, and editor of The Encyclopedia of Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Kirk N. Olsen, PhD, is a post-doctoral researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he is the Research Manager of the Music, Sound, and Performance Lab and the Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise, and Training.

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