Associations between musical experience and self-regulation
Musical experience is associated with a host of benefits to self-regulatory processes across multiple psychological domains. The purpose of the studies presented in this dissertation was to examine relationships between musical experience and cognitive, emotional, and physiological self-regulation. Cognitive regulation was measured with tasks of executive functions; emotional regulation was measured by self-efficacy, incidences of mental illness, depressive symptoms, and perceived chronic stress; and physiological regulation was measured by cortisol levels in response to an acute psychological stressor. Findings on cognitive regulation showed that enrollment in music programming during childhood was associated with enhanced working memory maintenance and updating, and musical experience in early adulthood was associated with enhanced cognitive flexibility. Among musically experienced adults, the ability to create a four-part harmonization was also associated with enhanced cognitive flexibility. With respect to emotional regulation, continued enrollment in music programming was associated with higher regulatory self-efficacy in children, and musically trained adults demonstrated lower incidences of mental illness, depressive symptoms, and perceived chronic stress. No physiological differences were found in acute cortisol reactivity between musicians and non-musicians, despite lower levels of perceived chronic stress in musicians. Taken together, these results suggest that cognitive and emotional self- regulation are impacted by music training, but not physiological regulation. However, divergent findings may depend on the type of musical experience measured, and the age of musical engagement.