Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Dong-Yuan Wang

Second Advisor

Dr. Dan Richard

Department Chair

Dr. Michael P. Toglia

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick


Music is one of the most popular activities while driving. Previous research on music while driving has been mixed, with some researchers finding music to be a distractor and some research finding music to be facilitative to driving performance. The current study was designed to determine if familiarity with the music might explain the difference found between self-selected and experimenter-selected music, and whether the difficulty of the driving conditions affected music’s relationship to driving performance. One hundred and sixty-five University students participated in a driving simulation both with music and without music. Under the “with music” condition, participants were randomly assigned to three music conditions: self-selected music, experimenter-selected familiar music, and experimenter-selected unfamiliar music. In the simulation drive, participants first drove under a simple, low-mental workload condition (car following task in a simulated suburban road) and then drove under a complex, high-mental workload condition (city/urban road). The results showed that whether music was self- or experimenter-selected did not affect driving performance. Whether the music was familiar or unfamiliar did not affect performance either. However, self-selected music appeared to improve driving performance under low-workload conditions, leading to less car-following delay and less standard deviation in steering, but also caused participants to drive faster, leading to faster mean speed and higher car-following modulus, but not more speed limit violations. Self-selected music did not have any significant effect in high-mental workload conditions.