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
January 2021, 349pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5771-3
$107, £83, 94€, A147
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5772-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

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.

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
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 Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Encyclopedia.

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


"Bill Thompson, who has carried out highly influential research concerning many aspects of musical function and emotional wellbeing, reaches out to a general audience in his new book, The Science and Psychology of Music, edited with Kirk Olsen. The book is remarkable for its accessibility, expansive coverage, clarity of exposition, and thoughtful and far-reaching discussions. All readers with an interest in music will be fascinated by the research and theory that are so eloquently described in this engaging book, and generations of students will be inspired to enter into the study of how music affects the mind."—Professor Diana Deutsch, author of Musical Illusions and Phantom Words: How Music and Speech Unlock Mysteries of the Brain, professor of Psychology, University of California San Diego

"Thompson and Olsen have assembled an A-team of world experts in music psychology and created a compelling encyclopedia of major topics on the many ways we experience music. The result is a valuable volume with entries that offer depth and insight, while remaining wholly accessible to the non-expert reader."—David Huron, Academy Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University

"If you read only one book about the psychology of music, this is the one to get. It is both the most up-to-date and most comprehensive book on the market, masterfully presented. You know you want it—what are you waiting for?"—Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, Author of This Is Your Brain on Music; Dean Emeritus, The Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute

"This fascinating and important book describes and thoroughly explores how important music is to us all, and why. It is beautifully written and edited, and provides a fascinatingly wide coverage of its subject. In addition, interested readers will find a huge reservoir of additional references. Reading it will deepen your appreciation of what it means to be human."—Brian Jersky, Ph.D. (Cornell), Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, California State University, Long Beach

"Everyone knows the appeal of music. Yet, very few know the science behind it. Here, you will find a remarkable collection of short stories that are diverse, accessible and lucid."—Isabelle Peretz, CM OQ FRSC, Professor and Canada Research Chair in neurocognition of music, International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), Department of Psychology, University of Montreal

"This is the first book to concisely and objectively provide a comprehensive panorama of all possible topics explored by researchers in the field of Psychology and Science of Music. Anyone interested in understanding why and how music touches upon virtually all aspects of our lives should read it! Undoubtedly, it will stimulate readers and inspire young adults to immerse themselves in this fascinating area of knowledge that has been growing exponentially over the past few years."—Patrícia Vanzella, Pianist, Associate Professor, Center for Mathematics, Computing and Cognition, Head of the Neuroscience and Music Group, Universidade Federal do ABC, Brazil

"This book is the perfect introduction to the exciting field of music psychology. The wide-ranging, up-to-date, and socially relevant coverage, and the concisely written and uniquely accessible chapters, will surely inspire a new generation of music researchers. The book is a real treat even for someone who is already familiar with the field. Both the editors and the authors have done a splendid job."—Patrik N. Juslin, Author of Musical Emotions Explained: Unlocking the Secrets of Musical Affect
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.