The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.
Date Permissions Signed
Date of Award
Department or Program Affiliation
Experimental Psychology Graduate Program
Master of Science (MS)
Hyman, Ira E.
Lemm, Kristi M., 1971-
Jantzen, Kelly J.
This research was conducted to understand the effect of cognitive load on the occurrence of earworms. A go/no go task, a typical mind wandering method, was used to create different levels of cognitive load based on the difficulty of the task. We also used a control condition which more closely matched previous earworm studies. Both probe-caught and survey reports were used to measure earworms and mind wandering in the study. Earworms were not found to occur more often in the lower experimental levels of cognitive load but controls reported spending more time with earworms. This finding is mostly inconsistent with research on mind wandering which occurs in low cognitive load conditions when more resources are available. I theorize that earworms may occur with minimal resources where more complex thoughts in mind wandering cannot. Earworms may follow a U-shape continuum where earworms may occur in lower levels of cognitive load but must compete with the opportunity of other mind wandering topics. Future research should aim to use more moderate cognitive load tasks to better understand when the occurrence of earworms increases on the lower end of the cognitive load spectrum.
Cognitive Load, Involuntary Thought, Musical Imagery, Mind Wandering, Mindwandering, Earworms
Western Washington University
Subject – LCSH
Music--Psychological aspects; Imagery (Psychology); Thought suppression; Cognitive consistency
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.
Cutshaw, Kayleigh I., "The Effect of Cognitive Load on Involuntary Musical Imagery" (2021). WWU Graduate School Collection. 1017.