Date of Submission



Adolescents are known through both anecdotal and empirical research to be poor descision-makers; especially when risk is involved. Numerous factors are highlighted as influential to descision-making in adolescence; however, no complete understanding has been offered despite the endeavour. Understanding is suggested to be key to decision-making, and analogical reasoning is key to understanding. In addition, figurative-language comprehension skills are reported to be practically identical in their neurological mapping as analogical reasoning skills. Furthermore, lyrical music can be heavily represented by figurative language; and adolescents are exposed to lyrical musical for up to a quarter of their waking days. The existing research on specific effects of music lyrics is limited to its declarative content. Linguistic-structural parameters, such as metaphoricity and other forms of figurativeness, have yet to be investigated. The extant literature suggests such stimuli are important for the acquisition of behavioural idiosyncrasies, knowledge structures, and schemas/scripts acquired during adolescence. This study aimed to examine the effects of exposure to lyrically figurative music, compared to lyrically literal music, on cognitive performance (i.e., analogical reasoning) in an adolescent and young adult sample (14-24 years). 31 participants (Mage = 17.4 years, SD = 2.54) were recruited from secondary and tertiary institutions in the Melbourne metropolitan area, and randomly assigned to either a ‘figurative-lyric exposure’ group or a ‘literal-lyric exposure’ group. Participants were scored on their analogical reasoning skills before and after an experimental induction of music lyric type. Demographic variables served as covariate measures on the effect of exposure to lyrical-music stimuli on a measure of analogical reasoning. The results showed that participants in the figurative-lyric exposure group exhibited significantly greater transient increases in analogical reasoning skills compared to participants in the literal-lyric exposure group. The figurative-lyric exposure effects were consistent across age, gender, and extracurricular activity involvement. Furthermore, the effect remained significant after controlling for existing analogical reasoning skills and analogical reasoning task practice effects. Limitations and future research are discussed.


School of Psychology

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


114 pages

Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)