Beneath the Surface: the Influence of Music and the Dark Triad Traits on Stress and Performance

Teresa Gomes Arrulo*, Mihalis Doumas, Kostas A. Papageorgiou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Examining factors that protect against the negative repercussions of stress on everyday functioning is paramount. This experimental study investigated the effects of music listening and personality on the reduction of perceived stress and cognitive performance. Seventy adults (18-45 years, M = 22.8, SD = 6.6) completed measures of the Dark Triad traits (psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism), music preferences, and music uses, and undertook a stress-inducing procedure. Participants were randomly allocated to three groups: hip-hop/rap, classical music, control, being exposed to the respective genre or silence for 20 minutes after the predicted peak in stress. Results showed that classical and hip-hop/rap music equally facilitated stress reduction. Narcissism predicted lower stress when classical music preference was high. Narcissism also predicted enhanced performance but also greater stress, when paired with infrequent stress-management through music. These novel findings demonstrate how particular genres and traits, despite being predominantly negatively perceived, can enhance stress reduction or cognitive performance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Psychology
Early online date29 Mar 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Mar 2021


  • music listening
  • subclinical narcissism
  • music preferences
  • performance
  • laboratory-induced stress
  • music uses
  • hip-hop


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