Music as the Means to Stimulate Novelty and Challenge Seeking in Persons with Intellectual Disability

Amanallah Soltani, Samsilah Roslan, Maria Chong Abdullah, Chan Cheong Jan


Purpose: The main aim of the study was to determine whether challenge seeking behaviour could be increased by stimulating persons with intellectual disability with music. The intention was also to evaluate whether the participants would attempt to seek challenges when they felt bored with a music experience.


Method: Thirty adolescents and young adults with mild to moderate intellectual disability were randomly selected to take part in a repeated-measure experimental design, under three different conditions. In the first condition, the participants were provided adequate challenges through teaching fundamental musical skills. In the second condition, no optimal challenge was provided, and in the third condition, using special strategies, the participants were stimulated to look for novelty and challenge through involvement in creative musical tasks. Level of innovation, as an index of challenge seeking, was measured during the 8 minutes of free choice interval at the end of each condition.


Results: Using Friedman’s ANOVA and Wilcoxon signed-rank test, the findings showed that the low and statistically similar levels of challenge seeking behaviour in conditions 1 and 2 significantly increased to a high level in condition 3. It confirmed that participants with intellectual disability are capable of demonstrating challenge seeking behaviour if they are stimulated to do so. The results also confirmed that the tendency to demonstrate challenge seeking behaviour during a boring musical situation was low.

doi 10.5463/DCID.v23i4.164


Challenge seeking behaviours; innovation; music intervention program

Full Text:



American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (2002). Mental retardation: definition, classification and systems of supports. Washington American Association on Mental Retardation.

Balla D, Zigler E (1979). Personality development in retarded persons. In Handbook of Mental Deficiency: Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Cohen J (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences (2 ed.): New York: Academic Press.

Coon D (2006). Psychology: a modular approach to mind and behaviour: Wadsworth, Thomson Learning.

Csikszentmihalyi M (1975). Beyond boredom and anxiety: The experience of flow in work and games. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Deci EL (1980). The psychology of self-determination: Lexington, MA: D C Heath.

Deci EL, Ryan RM (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. New York: Plenum Press. PMid:3841237.

Field A (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS (3 ed.): SAGE Publication Ltd.

Flum H, Kaplan A (2006). Exploratory orientation as an educational goal. Journal of Educational Psychologist; 41(2): 99 -110.

Foreman P (2009). Education of students with intellectual disability: research and practice. United States: Information Age Publishing Inc.

Gilmore L, Cuskelly M, Hayes A (2003). A comparative study of mastery motivation in young children with Down Syndrome: similar outcomes different process? Journal of Intellectual Disability Research; 47: 181-190. PMid:12603515.

Gravetter FJ, Forzano LAB (2008). Research method for the behavioural sciences (3 ed.). USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Guay F, Vallerand RJ, Blanchard C (2000). On the assessment of situational intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: the situational motivation scale (SIMS). Journal of Motivation and Emotion; 24(3): 175-213.

Harris PL, Want S (2005). On learning what not to do: the emergence of selective imitation in tool use by young children. In S Hurley and N Chater (Eds.), Perspective on imitation: From neuroscience to social science, Vol.2. Imitation, human development, and culture (pp. 146-162).

Harter S (1974). Pleasure derived by children from cognitive challenge and mastery. Child Development; 45: 661-665. PMid:4143822.

Harter S (1978). Effectance motivation reconsidered: toward a developmental model. Human Development; 21(34): 34-64.

Leech NL, Barrett KC, Morgan GA (2007). SPSS for intermediate statistics: use and interpretation (3 ed.): New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Lieberman MB, Asaba S (2006). Why do firms imitate each other? Academy of Management Review; 31: 366-385.

Niccols A, Atkinson L, Pepler D (2003). Mastery motivation in young children with Down Syndrome: relation with cognitive and adaptive competence. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research; 47: 121-133. PMid:12542578.

St-Joun A (2004). An investigation of the relationship between flow experience and the role of scaffolding in a Kindermusik classroom. Columbia University.

Taylor, Richards SB, Brady MP (2005). Mental retardation: historical perspective, current practice and future directions. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon.

Vygotsky LS (1978). Mind in society: The developmental of higher psychological processes: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

West SG, Biesanz JC, Kowok OM (2004). Within-subject and longitudinal experiments design and analysis issues. In The Sage handbook of methods in social psychology: Sage Publication, Inc.

White RW (1959). Motivation reconsidered: the concept of competence. Psychological Review; 66(5): 297-333. PMid:13844397.

Zigler E, Balla D (1981). Issues in personality and motivation in mentally retarded persons. In Psychological Influence in Retarded Performance: Baltimore, MD: University Park Press. PMCid:370912.

Zigler E, Bennett-Gates D (1999). Personality development in individuals with mental retardation: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Zigler E, Hodapp RM (1991). Behavioural functioning in individuals with mental retardation. Annual review of psychology; 42: 29-50. PMid:1826825.


Copyright (c) 2015 Amanallah Soltani, Samsilah Roslan, Maria Chong Abdullah, Chan Cheong Jan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Supported by:


© Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development