Here at Seeker World Headquarters -- actually an experimental arcology ecosystem in Antarctica -- we like to keep a steady stream of music going in the newsroom. It's the usual workplace mix: nerdcore hip-hop, Tuvan throat singing, Hank Williams, this sort of thing.
Evidently, we are once again on the cutting edge: New research published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior suggests that upbeat music in the workplace promotes better cooperation and efficiency. Trace Dominguez has the details in today's DNews report.
For the experiment, researchers at Cornell University divided 78 college students into two groups -- one exposed to happy music, and the other exposed to unhappy music. These are subjective terms, of course, but the research team did its best. The happy group got songs like "Walking on Sunshine" and "Yellow Submarine." The unhappy group got album tracks from obscure heavy metal bands.
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The students in each group were asked to decide how much money they wanted to put into a group pool, and how much they wanted to keep for themselves. To incentivize cooperation, money in the pool was multiplied 1.5 times before being split evenly. The results? Contributions to the pool were about one-third higher with the happy music group.
The study is the latest of several research initiatives over the years trying to suss out the effects of music on workplace cooperation and productivity. A previous University of Miami study showed that computer developers worked faster and better when allowed to play their own music selections at work.
On the other hand, a study at Florida Atlantic University observed 45 students to see how fast they wrote essays with or without music. Those who listened to music wrote slower by an average of 60 words per hour, suggesting that music may actually be distracting when doing something as cognitively intense as essay writing.
For more on music -- happy or unhappy -- check out our recent report on the enduring question: Is There A Formula Behind Good Music?
-- Glenn McDonald
Wiley Online Library: The Sound Of Cooperation: Musical Influences On Cooperative Behavior
Huffington Post: Listening To Heavy Metal May Actually Make You Calmer, Study Finds
Medical Daily: This Is Your Brain On Music: How Our Brains Process Melodies That Pull On Our Heartstriings