The effect of Chinese pop background music on Chinese poetry reading comprehension

Yang DONG, Hao-Yuan ZHENG, Xiaoying WU, Fang-Ya HUANG, Shu-Na PENG, Yuanke SUN, Hong ZENG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Students prefer to listen to music while reading because they believe it will help them focus on constructing a contextual mental picture. However, the effect of background music on the reading comprehension of primary school new readers remains unclear. This study examines the effects of two musical factors (familiarity and tempo) on the construction of poetry mental picture in 129 Chinese primary school readers with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. The study controlled for nonverbal intelligence, age, gender, working memory, and receptive vocabulary, and results showed that background music had a negative effect on poetry reading performance. Specifically, students had similar performance in easy poetry reading with background music but performed better in difficult poetry reading with unfamiliar music and slower melody. The effect size of unfamiliar background music was larger than that of melody tempo. This study provided literature on the effect of background music on surface decoding in poetry reading and suggested that the appropriate approach for readers who are in the learning to read stage should be to refrain from listening to music while reading. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1544-1565
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number5
Early online dateFeb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


Dong, Y., Zheng, H.-Y., Wu, S. X.-Y., Huang, F.-Y., Peng, S.-N., Sun, S. Y.-K., & Zeng, H. (2022). The effect of Chinese pop background music on Chinese poetry reading comprehension. Psychology of Music, 50(5), 1544-1565. doi: 10.1177/03057356211062940


  • Pop music
  • Poetry reading
  • Word reading
  • Semantic inference
  • ADHD
  • Primary school
  • PG student publication


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