Publication Date

Summer 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Megumi Hosoda


Background Music, Distraction, Music, Regulatory Fit, Regulatory Focus Theory

Subject Areas

Occupational psychology; Occupational therapy; Social psychology


Every day, distractions keep people from maintaining focus and productivity. Music, in particular, is a distraction that can easily disrupt individuals mentally and physically. However, what if common distractions like music had the power to motivate people towards a goal rather than deter them from it? Regulatory Focus Theory offers an explanation for how this is possible. It posits two motivational foci: promotion and prevention. If individuals are promotion-focused, they seek positive outcomes, and if individuals are prevention-focused, they try to avoid negative outcomes.

The current study tested the assumption that avoiding distractions during goal pursuit matched the behavior of someone with a prevention focus better than someone with a promotion focus and simply being in a prevention focus when completing a task could increase an individual’s task enjoyment and performance when distractions were present. Participants were first given a questionnaire to determine their regulatory focus. Then their task was to solve math problems in the presence or absence of music which served as the distraction. The results of 150 participants did not support the hypotheses and showed that, regardless of whether a distraction was present or not, promotion-focused participants performed better and enjoyed the task more than their prevention-focused counterparts.