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Individual differences in mental control predict involuntary musical imagery

Beaman, C. P. and Williams, T. I. ORCID: (2013) Individual differences in mental control predict involuntary musical imagery. Musicae Scientiae, 17 (4). pp. 398-409. ISSN 2045-4147

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/1029864913492530


The experience of earworms, a type of involuntary musical imagery, may reflect a systematic failure in mental control. This study focused on how individual differences in each of two factors, schizotypy, or “openness to experience”, and thought suppression might relate to the appearance of the involuntary musical image (earworm). Schizotypy, was measured by Raine’s schizotypal personality questionnaire (SPQ; Raine, 1991) and thought suppression was measured by the White Bear Suppression Inventory (WBSI; Wegner & Zanakos, 1994). Each was found to contribute independently to the overall experience of involuntary musical imagery. Schizotypy was correlated with the length and disruptiveness of earworms, the difficulty with which they were dismissed and the worry they caused, but was not correlated with the frequency of such intrusive imagery. In turn, schizotypy was predicted by suppression and intrusion components of WBSI. The WBSI is associated with the length, disruptiveness, difficulty dismissing and interference but not with the worry caused or the frequency of earworms. The assumption of “ownership” of earworms was also found to affect the extent to which the earworms were considered worrying. Multiple regression analysis showed that both schizotypy and the WBSI predicted the difficulty with which unwanted musical images were dismissed, but that the WBSI accounted for additional variance on top of that accounted for by schizotypy. Finally we consider how earworm management might relate to wider cognitive processes.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Cognition Research (CCR)
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:32466

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