Does music really help our productivity and creativity in work?

Most of us like to put our headphones on and tune out with some grooves when we get to work but a new study suggests music might be hindering our creativity.

Whether you’re writing a report, studying for class, filling out spreadsheets and anything in-between most of us like to listen to tunes when we’re working. We often think that listening to music helps us focus on our work but it seems that it probably has the opposite effect.

A report titled ‘Background music stints creativity’ looks at a series of studies to see whether music really aids productivity. In three different experiments the study investigates the impact of background music on the performance of Compound Remote Associate Tasks (CRATs) using music with foreign lyrics, music with familiar lyrics and then instrumental lyrics with no words.

The findings found that as you’d expect background music with foreign lyrics was the most detrimental to results. However the experiments found that even instrumental music acted more as a distraction to the performance of participants than as an aid by boosting their mood or creativity.

The study also shows that it didn’t matter whether the participants liked or disliked the music in regards to their results. So whilst we may feel like listening to our favourite tunes give us motivation, or that classical music will help you to focus instead of pop music, none of them quite match up to the working conditions of silence.

This doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone though and will it stop us listening to the music we love whilst we work? Of course not. You can read the full findings here.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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One comment

    I honestly do concentrate better when I have some piano music on if there is a lot of noise in the environment. I do work better in silence if that is available. Electronic music, which I love, is too distracting to work with most of the time. Some of the calm D&B is tolerable but I can’t work with heavy electronic, fast-paced beats on!

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