Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis


W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department


Reader 1

Jessica Malisch

Reader 2

Marion Preest

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© 2014 Jamie Lowe


Stress can be defined as feelings of frustration or anxiety that arise when individuals face challenges that exceed their capabilities or resources. Consequences of stress generally result from a suppressed immune system and include headaches, sleep problems, and muscle pain. Music as an intervention for relieving pain has increased due to its non-invasive nature, ease of administration, low cost, and lack of adverse side effects. While prior research on music therapy and pain has primarily focused on pain related to surgery, disease, or accidents, there have been no studies to date examining the association between music therapy and stress-induced muscle pain. I have designed a study proposal to establish the relationship between music therapy and muscle pain related to stress. The proposed study will compare salivary cortisol levels, pain visual analogue scale (VAS) scores, the number of painkillers consumed, and the number of doctor visits of healthy individuals experiencing the same stressor (MCAT or GRE) over a 3 month period. One group of participants will be randomly assigned to listen to an additional 30 minutes of self-chosen calming music a day, whereas the other will not listen to any additional music. It is hypothesized that the participants that listen to the additional calming music will experience significantly lower levels of stress and therefore lower muscle pain levels than the participants that did not listen to music. This research is potentially useful for students who undergo constant stress due to the demands of college. Future studies could include whether music therapy allows students to study longer by relieving some of the muscle pain caused by stress.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.