Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Adam L. Lawson

Department Affiliation


Second Advisor

Theresa Botts

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Catherine A. Clement

Department Affiliation



The primary researcher sought to determine whether different genres of music would differentially influence measures of autonomic nervous system activity (heart rate, galvanic skin response) while viewing visual stimuli in a sample of college students. All participants listened to the same songs and music genres and viewed the same International Affective Picture System (IAPS) images. Autonomic nervous system activity was recorded by attaching electrodes to participants' non-dominant hand and torso. Music order presentation and picture order presentation were randomly determined by E-Prime. Heart rate and skin conductance responses were both significant, with melodic metal music inducing greater intensity of responses for both, and an interaction effect was revealed for heart rate minimum and picture type. Findings show that different genres of music differentially affect autonomic nervous system activity, and that these effects are further influenced by stimuli valence (positive, negative, neutral). These results reveal that different genres of music have different effects on autonomic nervous system activity, and that such effects cannot be explained by musical preference.