Exploring the Earworm Phenomenon: A Study of Hooks and Musical Imagery Repetition (MIR)

Matthew Pullara, The College of Wooster


The phenomenon of experiencing a song or tune stuck in one's mind, also called an earworm or musical imagery repetition (MIR), happens to a vast majority of the population (over 99.8%). MIR has received little attention in the form of literature from the scientific community. The present study empirically addresses the earworm phenomenon. Participants in this study were male and female college students. The goal of the experiment was to induce MIR in participants by three different techniques and observe MIR duration. Duration was measured using an experience-sampling method (ESM) involving cell phone text messages. Results indicated that earworms were easily induced and some lasted several hours