A study conducted in Germany looked at how different interventions might affect the aggressive behaviour of children, and found that those who received musical training showed less aggressive behaviour when provoked.
The study, led by Ingo Roden of Oldenburg University, involved a group of 34 primary school children from different parts of Germany. Each week over the course of 18 months, 14 children were given professional musical instrument training, while 20 children were taught natural science and mathematics in groups under the guidance of specially trained teachers.
To test the effects that music and natural science had on their aggressive behaviour, the children were asked to complete a computerised stress task, which was used to measure their reactive aggressive behaviour. Heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol (i.e. stress) levels were also recorded.
Those who received musical training showed less aggressive behaviour in response to provocations via a computer game, compared to those given extended education in natural science. However, no significant differences in physiological measurements such as heart rate, blood pressure, or stress levels were found between the two groups.