Research Article: Effects of music on arousal during imagery in elite shooters: A pilot study

Date Published: April 17, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Garry Kuan, Tony Morris, Peter Terry, Urs M Nater.


Beneficial effects of music on several performance-related aspects of sport have been reported, but the processes involved are not well understood. The purpose of the present study was to investigate effects of relaxing and arousing classical music on physiological indicators and subjective perceptions of arousal during imagery of a sport task. First, appropriate music excerpts were selected. Then, 12 skilled shooters performed shooting imagery while listening to the three preselected music excerpts in randomized order. Participants’ galvanic skin response, peripheral temperature, and electromyography were monitored during music played concurrently with imagery. Subjective music ratings and physiological measures showed, as hypothesized, that unfamiliar relaxing music was the most relaxing and unfamiliar arousing music was the most arousing. Researchers should examine the impact of unfamiliar relaxing and arousing music played during imagery on subsequent performance in diverse sports. Practitioners can apply unfamiliar relaxing and arousing music with imagery to manipulate arousal level.

Partial Text

Music listening is associated with sport in several ways, including for entertainment, eliciting patriotism and pride, and enhancing the psychological state of athletes [1, 2]. The demonstrated benefits of music listening for athletes include arousal control, lowered perceived effort, improved affective states, synchronization effects, and enhanced performance [3, 4]. The present study focused on use of music for arousal control, extending the existing literature in the area. Burns et al. previously studied the effects of different types of music on relaxation levels, skin temperature, and heart rate when listening to classical, hard rock, self-selected relaxing music, and no music [5]. Classical and self-selected relaxing music increased subjective perceptions of relaxation more than hard rock music, but no differences were found on the physiological indicators of arousal, highlighting a disparity between perceived effects of music on arousal and objectively assessed effects. Our study investigated this disparity further.

We examined the effects of classical music excerpts on physiological and subjective arousal indicators among 12 highly-skilled pistol shooters while performing imagery of their pistol shooting task. Results confirmed that the music excerpts selected had the hypothesized effects on arousal, based on continuous monitoring of physiological indicators and subjective ratings elicited after each excerpt. Using subjective analogue rating scales, participants reported that the music excerpts matched the proposed characteristics of familiarity and preference.

GSR, PT, and EMG were effective as peripheral indicators of arousal although EMG was the least effective of these measures. The unfamiliar arousing and relaxing classical music pieces used in the present study were shown to be suitable for investigating effects of music on arousal during imagery.




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