The University of Melbourne
ICMPC posterFINAL6Aug.pdf (1.93 MB)

Hannah Taylor Poster ICMPC 2023 Tokyo - Paper 413

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Listening to music is known as being a pleasurable experience for healthy people (Martinez-Molina, 2019). But how is music used and experienced by those with eating disorders? As anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are rising in prevalence (Keel, 2017), a rise exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic (Mahoney et al., 2021), the urgency to understand and consider novel interventions for these mental illnesses is intensifying. While music therapy is available as a treatment for each of these disorders, using music as a tool for emotion regulation, few studies of rigorous design investigate how music is used or experienced by people with eating disorders in their daily lives. This research explores pleasure and reward from music in a population with eating disorders, and potential similarities between binge-eating, addictive behavior, and music-use habits.


The aim of this research is to explore and synthesise the current state of knowledge across the eating disorder and the music literature. Such a synthesis is important for understanding any benefits or risks music therapy might pose to people with eating disorders. Pleasure and reward are key themes that have an impact on how music is used and experienced by this population, and similarities and differences between eating behavior, addictive behavior, and music use, should be further considered. A theoretical model is proposed as a foundation for future research seeking to understand interactions between these themes.

Main Contribution

Synthesis of inter-disciplinary knowledge is essential for understanding how music is used and experienced by people with eating disorders. A systematic literature review was conducted which found a paucity of literature investigating music and eating disorders. This research explores music and eating disorders in more depth and proposes a theoretical model that connects these themes with pleasure, reward, and addictive behavior (Taylor, et al., 2023).


A deeper understanding of how people with eating disorders use and experience music may have diagnostic implications in the future and will support clinicians, music therapists, and researchers in subsequently devising appropriate interventions. The theoretical model will provide a foundation for future research to enhance our understanding of pleasure from music, similarities between experiences of pleasure from music, food, and addictive substances, and functions of the reward system in our brains.