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Table of Contents
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- Psychological Effects of Music
- Therapeutic Effect of Music
- Influence of Different Music Genres on Human Brain
- A. Impact of Popular Music on Psychological Characteristics
- B. Influence of Classical Music on Human Brain
- C. Background Music and Its Effect on Human Brain
- Related Music essays
Music surrounds us since childhood and is now perceived as a universal phenomenon, for it exists as long as people do and embraces all cultures. However, through the history of mankind it has become much more than just an acoustic entity. Music has an artistic quality inherent to it, the power to convey images. It is also a means of communication and self-expression. After all, even human voice can be considered a kind of music.
Correct investigation direction demands defining the basic terms no matter whether they are self-evident or practically impossible to explain. In order to standardize the possible multiple understandings of music and genres as crucial elements of the given research, it would be prudent to use a single source for all of them. Thus, Merriam-Webster online dictionary offers two concepts of music and defines it as “the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity” and “vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony”. The dictionary offers both approaches, one presupposing active involvement of people as a society in creation of music and the other giving the mankind only a secondary role. Further definitions will be given in the relevant subsections of the work and explain the music genres mentioned with regard to the psychological effect they produce on people.
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Music evolves together with society, with new genres and ways of creating music appearing regularly. Finally, music is a very powerful psychological phenomenon, as it influences the mood of people and can convey memories. The effect of this acoustic harmony is used therapeutically; it is a well-known fact that it also helps to develop intellectually, even in prenatal period. Animals also react to music, but it is the human interactions with it that remain in the focus of psychologists. Mechanisms of influence and effects of different genres of music on the human brain are what interest scientists nowadays.
Psychological Effects of Music
In order to understand the way music affects the minds of people, it is crucial to define the brain area that perceives and processes music. In this regard Daniel Levitin mentions that the scientific thought progressed a lot in this field: when earlier it was traditionally considered that it is the right hemisphere, which was responsible for creative endeavors and the left one was responsible for logical operations, modern science has established that music is “distributed throughout the brain” (9). Studies of people with brain damage show that similar actions like reading a newspaper and reading music are not connected, and in most cases, the latter function is retained. It is a proof that processing music engages almost every neural subsystem.
The study of psychological effects of music embraces all age groups, but it is especially important to find out its implications for young minds. Thus, a lot of researchers dedicate their works to the study of influence of music on children. Jenny Nam Yoon, for instance, maintains that there are definite positive effects of music on education. The scientist focuses on the role of music education as a powerful factor in children’s studying. She mentions that it facilitates brain activity resulting in children showing better academic achievements and develops more efficient practical life skills (5). The latter includes such components as discipline, learning to cope with stressful circumstances, cooperate with other people and express one’s feelings and emotions in a creative way, as well as deeper understanding of one’s own culture and the foreign ones. One cannot deny that such features will to be of great help to children in their adult lives. Yoon emphasizes the educating might be of this instrument, which is by no means a purely esthetic agent, by stating that it is strongly enrooted in our biology, helps to evolve and establish connection between two brain hemispheres, thus being extraordinarily important for children regarding their neurological development. Citing other authors, the researcher maintains that brains of children are naturally receptive to music, so music activities, especially if they are self-initiated, “enhance children’s development of communication, expression, and cognition” (9). Scientists also mention obvious connections between music and mathematics, for learning to play an instrument involves similar concepts as the ones existing in this science, in such a way making the understanding of this subject better. Methods integrating musical and mathematical elements for primary education show astonishingly good results. Thus, learning music as a part of curriculum appears to be not a only a good means of developing taste in art and basic music knowledge, but a valuable aid for studying in general.
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There exist definite parallels between music and emotions. A study conducted by Finnish scholars Saarikallio and Erkkila in 2007 delimited seven ways in which our mood correlates with listening to the music: it can have an entertaining component and revitalizing features, it may produce strong sensations (especially when performing), it may be a distractive and a discharging factor, it may enhance mental work and trigger solace (88). The last two elements are interrelated, and in extension of describing the effects of music on mental work, the scientists mention that it can accompany daydreaming, encourage old memories, and general exploring of the past. The results of this study show how deeply and universally our emotions are wired to music.
The same idea is supported by Levitin who claims that this feature of music is not only known but also actively applied in a lot of spheres of life, especially in advertising where its manipulating powers can be revealed. The mere presence of music in commercials or films can enhance the popularity of the product greatly. But not only specialized areas require music, the author continues, giving a quite widespread example of the soothing and distracting effect of music on babies when it comes in form of a lullaby. It all proves the tremendous progress being made in the sphere of understanding the effects of music on people.
Anneli B. Haake cites a whole scope of scientists to support the idea of great influence of music on people’s everyday life. She maintains that the purposes of listening to music may vary greatly presupposing that average listeners define for themselves the measure and character of the influence produced on them by the music they listen to. In other words, it may refer to some kind of the subconscious need generated by the already realized impact of music on the brain and different psychological characteristics. The factors mentioned by the scholar range from the well-being management and creating of atmosphere to the wish to relax, evoke memories, concentrate or simply spend time with entertainment (24). Thus, the multiple functions of music in everyday life serve as proves of its great value and power.
The effect of music on deviant behavior is also investigated by the scientists. Susan C. Gardstrom devoted her research to study of connections between psychological features of male juvenile delinquents and music they listen to. The scientist aimed to discover whether music could have been the driving force of criminal behavior. She resorted to a series of theories that can be applied to her respondents. Reflection-rejection theory presupposed that young men rather listened to music which expressed their inner state than were under the influence of music shaping and causing their mood and behavior; it found the largest number of supporters among the sample (207). Two other concepts turned out to be less popular with regard to the group of respondents. Thus, drive reduction theory embracing the idea that music serves as an expressive means, an outlet for the emotions (thus preventing surplus accumulation with all the negative consequences) and excitation-transfer theory implying that music can only be a catalyst of preexisting emotional state proved to be less applicable. It is mentioned that the names of the theories were coined by their authors. The scholar uses the implications of different genres of music as an incentive factor for criminal endeavors. This topic is to be examined in details in subsequent subsections of the present research; however, the general effect of music is worth being discussed in this section. Thus, the mere assumption that listening to music can cause people to act in a certain way was in focus of the study. The peculiarity of Gardstrom’s work is her comprehensive overview of the scientific concepts relevant to criminal psychology. Particularly, it is mentioned that reflection-rejection theory views music as a separate and neutral factor. Its proponents claim that music irregardless of a source or a genre is “neither good nor bad, but simply a reflection of social values” (210). Such an approach obviously diminishes the role of music as a separate powerful influence factor in human life, but rather proves the social character of music. It also, probably, proves that ascribing social vices of the kind to such an innocent instrument and mediator as music is at the very least irresponsible. This hypothesis as well as any other scientific thought deserves to be considered. Its relevance to the given research is explained by the fact that the idea of negative influence of music in establishing some violent behavioral patterns is rather popular, but it is necessary to understand that, in assessing the influence of music on the lives of people, one should not resort to exaggerations. In such a way, Gardstrom’s research revealed that the explication of the cause of delinquent behavior should be sought outside the domain of music and its effects on human brain.
The fact that music is processed in different parts of the brain proves that it is a rather complicated phenomenon. However, scientists are able to experimentally establish the effects of music on psychological state and behavior of people. These are especially palpable applicably to children who are generally more perceptive to different kinds of outer stimuli. The role of music in their life is viewed as beneficial and contributing to development of important skills including those crucial for balanced social life and successful studying. Enough proof of negative influence of music on teenagers with criminal records also could not be confirmed. It allows concluding that music is not a corrupting agent for young minds. Studies of emotional impact of music on people reveal that it can serve as a great psychological outlet and perform a lot of necessary functions.
Therapeutic Effect of Music
Scientists also pay attention to another effect of music which should be mentioned. Thus, Haake refers to the topic of mood management through music which includes homeopathic and allopathic strategies. The scholar explains that homeopathic influence of music means the power to enhance current moods (191), while the allopathic effect implies conscious selection of particular music that can help people change their moods. These approaches may be effective in different situations, but the main result they should bring is that a person realizes his or her current state and allows going of the unnecessary emotional load in order to feel better. If a person has already designed a way to cope with emotions with the help of music, there are grounds to talk about a kind of emotional intelligence. The fact that music can help us realize our mood better and change it according to our needs is a great merit of this art. Homeopathic influence of music is mentioned by Haake with regard to aid in working environment, but one cannot deny the importance of such a factor in everyday life. Besides, the extent of emotional discharge at work is rather limiting; that is why self-selective home listening appears to be more effective. Mood-changing approaches can be also applied with the purpose of professional help. Psychology and even clinical psychiatry experts should definitely pay attention to such a method as the one possessing a great emotion-release potential. Generally, homeopathic and allopathic strategies can be defined as therapeutic and once again prove the power music can have on us.
Another domain where music functions can be truly called clinical. The beginning of the twenty-first century was marked by the search of complementary methods of treating psychological and physiologic illnesses. Music turned out to be one of them. It should be noted that the methods of art therapy including treatment with the help of music were not considered to have any scientific value up to the 1950’s. After that a trend “toward descriptive and experimental research in this field” was commenced (Pratt 827).
As well as other forms of art therapy, music therapy manifests its positive results on a lot of patient groups. People with Alzheimer disease tend to get a closer touch with the world under the influence of music. There also exist experimental findings claiming that even such severe psychopathological conditions as schizophrenia can be in some way relieved through music. Music therapy can also be applied for treating substance abuse. For instance, there are experimental findings supporting the idea that music is effective in psychotherapy for LSD addiction. Rosalie Pratt devoted her investigation to the study of the influence of art therapy on such conditions as “brain injury, cognitive dysfunction, pain and musculoskeletal injuries” (827). The role of music therapy among art treatment methods is also revealed by programs of helping senior citizens. The author offers to differentiate between music therapy and music medicine pointing out the temporal difference between the appearances of these notions. There is also a positive tendency manifesting that lately music therapy has been gaining more scientific interest than other art therapy forms. The effect of music on patients with different illnesses is truly amazing. In case of brain injury, for instance, music can help activate those parts of the brain that are still healthy. It also facilitates faster emergency from coma. For the patients experiencing pain, music can be of aid acting as a relaxing and distracting agent. It also decreases anxiety of people diagnosed with cancer, and it is especially effective in pediatrics.
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Children with disabilities can also be aided with the help of music therapy. This topic was raised at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition. Susan Sze and Sanna Yu, the authors of the article, maintain that the role of music for special education is exceptional. They claim that music has been a method of healing since times immemorial, enabling people to solve different cognitive and biopsychological problems (341). It can also be an additional method of treating emotional and behavioral disorders. Scholars claim, however, that there have been not enough attention paid to complex effect of music on treatment of autism, mental retardation, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and physical as well as other health impairments. Disabled children can get new experiences that help them develop a whole scope of necessary cognitive features, including skills of social kind and linguistic kind for children with autism, due to attending music therapy sessions. Therapists use the abilities of music to alter moods and give assessment to emotional problems. The authors of the article cite a lot of methods of music therapy involving work with instruments, dancing, and other physical expressions. The scope of cognitive features, which can be improved by application of such methods, is truly tremendous. Apart from that, music encourages creative expression that is so important for kids. Musical beat acts as an adjustable factor for medical needs in this case, and it means that its intensity and speed can be varied. Generally, the scientist mentions that music exerts a beneficial influence on cognitive, psychological, social and academic abilities.
The scope of mental and physical conditions, which can be relieved with the help of music, gives reasons to assess this sphere of art treatment as very promising. Besides, applying a prudent approach, people can use music to “heal” as a part of self-treatment.
Influence of Different Music Genres on Human Brain
Modern media tend to have a clear division point according to the level of “seriousness.” Such an art form as music is not an exclusion. Also, there are tabloids and broadsheets in newspaper publishing, as well as there are blockbusters and arthouse motion pictures, music world presents distinctions between the classical and popular music. It is understood that the polar categories can to a great extend characterize their consumers socially, i.e., there is a range of qualities attributed to both groups. For instance, it is considered that those who watch festival films and listen to Beethoven are more sophisticated, as these are the examples of elite art. Such a social characteristic must also be taken into consideration when analyzing the effects different genres of music produce on people.
Merriam-Webster presents definitions of relevant musical genres. Classical music refers to the late 18th and early 19th centuries and focuses on such characteristics as balance, clarity, and moderation and opposing to folk, popular music and jazz. Rock is defined as popular music played with electronic amplification and accented beat. Lyric is considered to contain refrains and melody patterns exploiting elements of country, folk, and blues. Pop is presented as a generic term for all kinds of popular music with no extended definition given. However, based on comparison with rock, pop can be characterized by absence of heavy beat and widespread use of electronic samples. Rap is explained as rhythmic chanting sung to a musical accompaniment. It should be noted that the definitions given by the dictionary naturally cannot cover the whole scope of distinguishing features of a certain genre, but they become really of aid in terms of standardized understanding of musical genres. There exist multiple genre concepts with the whole topology of original and derivative music forms, but reference to Merriam-Webster helps to eliminate ambiguity unavoidable otherwise.
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As classical works were written in the past, they remain a stable domain. What concerns popular music, it evolves constantly. Speaking about modern music, it is now hard to distinguish the purely musical elements from the outer form. In such a way, there are reasons to speak about show business with strategically planned lyrics written for the ones who perform. Referring to the influence of different genres of music on human mind and behavior, there is a definite tendency of a strict division on the favorable effect of classical music and degrading impact of the popular songs.
A. Impact of Popular Music on Psychological Characteristics
One cannot deny that there is a certain message carried by the texts of songs. Once again, children and adolescents are in the focus of studying the influence of music on the human brains. Some genres of modern music seem to bring more destruction to young minds than the others. Thus, there was conducted a study results of which showing that one average hour of listening to music conveys approximately “35 references to substance abuse” (Parker-Pope). Further researches calculated the ratio according to genres: out of 279 hits of 2005 pop songs contained lyrics with the smallest numbers of references to drugs and alcohol. As for the other genres, the percentage proved to be much higher: 14 percent for rock songs, 20 for R&B and hip-hop, and 36 percent for country. It was revealed that rap songs showed the largest figures - 77 percent of them included explicit references. Only 4 percent of the sampled songs contained messages discouraging the use of harmful substances. Scientists emphasize that although music is devoid of the visual element movies possess, exposure percentage to unwanted themes is higher for this medium. Concluding her article, Parker-Pope mentions that music remains a mighty social force that is able to influence “individual’s personal identity, memories, and mood.” One should understand that a business presupposes orientation on profit and uses various manipulation techniques in order to attract more revenue. From a point of view of an entrepreneur, it is understandable, but there remains a factor of unprotected ears of children who often cannot filter the information they receive and react to it accordingly.
Popular music has found its way of combining the auditory and the visual element by resorting to music videos. A lot of studies are devoted to investigating the way clips effect human behavior. Some are cited by Eliana Tropeano in her article dealing with music video implications for violent conduct. The scientists generally agree that there are obvious signs of “greater acceptance to use of violence” by those who are exposed to violent pieces (31). The merit of Tropeano’s investigation is that she tries to reveal the differences between the ways various popular genres affect the brain. In her literature review, she quotes an interesting research aim of which was to define connections between the music young people listen to and their predisposition to violence based on the racial factor. It is a very delicate topic, for there are certain biases existing in society that form the public opinion about it. That is why it was so crucial for Mahiri and Conner, the scientists whose work is exemplified, to either debunk or prove such stereotypes. What interested the researchers was children’s interpretation of rap music and hip-hop culture generally and in particular messages of violence, sex, and crime. The sample included 41 students from the school situated in a poor section of one of California cities. Unfortunately, the outcomes of the survey showed that the students actually saw role models in rap performers due to the explicit lyrics they use in their songs. Certain violent patterns of behavior appeared to be actually enrooted in the students’ minds. Mahiri and Conner define violent behavior as hurting the others physically or verbally, “cursing, stealing, showing inappropriate gestures, and expressing negative views of women” (32). The results of Tropeano’s own study also revealed some clear connections between listening to aggressive music of rap performers and showing traces of violent behavior. The responses of the group not objected to violent songs presented an opposite picture. The conclusions of the young scholar are based on the widespread social tendencies: Tropeano insists that the adults must be very careful of what their children are exposed to taking in account the amount of juvenile delinquency incidents like school bombing and shooting and gang activity. In such a way, the society must understand that the messages of violent music are directly perceived by the young minds, which proves the measure to which people can be affected by music. This is a psycho-social phenomenon worth paying attention to.
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Dependence of a person’s mood on the type of music he or she listens to is also in the interest zone of the psychologists. Christopher Rea, Pamela MacDonald and Gwen Garnes tested two polar positions in their research on the impact of different music genres on people’s mood: “emotivist” implying that the music can arouse certain feelings and “cognitivists” suggesting that a listener can simply associate himself or herself with the piece of music. The latter theory presupposes also that the reason people choose a certain genre is that they relate their emotional state to the songs and lyrics. Such a thesis is similar to the one used by Gardstrom in her study of delinquent behavior. It was established that the volume of music plays a considerable role in defining the person’s mood. The authors confess they were inspired by a similar study which had had rather valuable results. It compared the effect of classical and heavy metal music on the mood of respondents. The outcomes showed that exposure to classical music turned out to be very positive (it managed both to cheer up people when they were sad and make them rejoice even more in the opposite case) whereas its popular rival appeared to be a total opposite case, aggravating negative states and diminishing the positive ones. Rea, McDonald and Garnes broadened their own study by applying longer exposure of different genres of music to the respondents. The researchers made a pre-test survey of musical preferences of the respondents, and then the participants of the study listened to pieces of classical, pop music and heavy metal and were offered to describe their mood after it. The theory that music actually affected the mood of people was proved by the investigation as well as the fact that different music genres exert various influences on the frame of mind. The scientists admit that areas presenting further research perspectives include gender-based study of music effect on mood and application of homogenous genres (as the classical work used in the experiment stood in sharp contrast to the other songs, because it was orchestral and did not involve the vocal component). However, the outcomes of the study do present interest, because they give recommendations to different institutions regarding music selection that will comply with the needs of their clients in the best way claiming that there is no need for anxiety in medical office while a tense beat may prepare people who came to the cinema to the exciting film. In other words, the authors speak about background music which is an object of investigation of the subsequent subparagraph.
Although this part of research contained mostly information on how popular music affects people psychologically, the last analyzed work is on the verge of transition to the next subparagraph. One should understand that one of the best ways to delimit differences between two notions is to compare them. The study by Rea, McDonald and Garnes presents such a comparison facility already implying some crucial intersection points for popular and classical music in their influence on human mind.
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B. Influence of Classical Music on Human Brain
Classical music is generally considered to be more elite. Such a positive characteristic presupposes a range of corresponding features for this music genre. Whether it appears to be proved or not is a topical question in psychology.
Turkish researcher Cagla Gur devoted her study to a widespread theme of effect of classical music on the development and performance of children. The accumulated strata of investigations conducted in this area reveal that listening to classical performers like Mozart does improve spatial IQ and cognitive abilities of children (251). There is, however, a category of the opposing scholars claiming that such results are quite exaggerated and do not reflect the actual situation, and Gur cites a lot of them. The common denominator of such works is a phrase “no significant differences” applicable to the results of spatial tests carried on after children’s exposure to classical and popular music. The author claims, however, that the absence of the result may be explained to a short music stimulation period, and for scientific fairness, the outcomes of investigations with years-long experiment duration are also cited. The latter actually manifest that the children who listened to classical music in nursery school for three years “exceeded control group in frequency of vocalizations, rhythmic movements, initiation of social contact, and positive emotion reaction” (252). As one can see, the results seem to be quite in favor of classical music. Other researches reveal that slow-tempo classical music enhances academic performance, as well as make children show better results over rock music when applying abstract art skills. With regard to the group, Cagla Gur intended to involve in the study, the scientist made it clear that the drawings of children exposed to classical music, as they are generally more informative than verbal means in terms of reflecting psychological characteristics, had to be analyzed. The peculiarity of this very investigation is a wide selection of classical works played to children while drawing. The results of the study indicated a positive effect of classical music on the cognitive drawing skills of nursery school-age children (257). As the drawings were not restricted by any topic, children applied all the imagination they could to it. When it happened in the class where they listened to music, their minds seemed to be more creative. It supported the outcomes of other researches claiming that, when there is a physical manipulation with the tool involved, brain appears to form new synapses to adjust to the acquired skills. In such a way, this article presents a valuable groundwork for the sphere of early education.
The investigation of the effect of classical music on adults should also be taken into consideration. The research by Nicola Mammarella, Beth Fairfield and Cesare Cornoldi is based on the supposition that classical music may enhance cognitive performance in older age groups. The scientists tested it applying memory tests. The respondents managed to cope with the tasks better while listening to music. These results stay in a contrast to the skeptical attitude of a lot of scientists to the so-called Mozart or Vivaldi effects increasing cognitive performance. However, positive dynamics of Alzheimer patients exposed to classical music revealed by some experiments cannot be denied. The outcomes of study of the abovementioned authors were also unexpected and opposing to the widespread persuasion that the most beneficial effect on the short-term memory is exerted by the white noise. Control groups for their experiment included the white noise and the silent group, both of them showing considerably worse results. The previous researches in this field included the ones based on rats and revealed promotion of spatial learning due to the white noise, and the results were preliminarily generalized for humans. The authors cite a valuable theory of their colleagues implying that music has combined arousal and mood effects meaning that the beneficial influence of music is exerted by both arousal level and moods of participants (2). The scholars mention that the positive results in classical music group were enhanced by some cultural relations, as the respondents were from Italia and listened to Vivaldi. Processing of verbal information takes place in the same brain areas that deal with processing of music, and the correlation existing between them can be used to enhance verbal memory. Summarizing the results, the scholars mentioned that the music played was intensity-controlled. In such a way, the study by Mammarella, Fairfield and Cornoldi proved that classical music can have a beneficial effect on some cognitive characteristics of the adults.
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Kenneth M. Steele, Karen E. Bass and Melissa D. Crook carried out an experiment replicating the one conducted four years ago by their colleagues and found no confirmation of the Mozart effect. A study based on the idea that spatial-reasoning performance is enhanced after listening to a sonata by this composer generally failed to produce an effect of any statistical or practical significance (366). The previous researches revealed temporarily but rather considerable effect of Mozart’s music on spatial reasoning increasing IQ of the respondents by 8-9 points. As for the failed experiments, scholars tend to ascribe unconformities to the expected Mozart effect to various methodological imperfections. The control group for Steele, Bass and Crook was the group of respondents who were prepared for task solving in silence. Although the effect of Mozart’s music on cognitive abilities was not discovered, the scholars noted a substantial influence on the mood of the respondents. The authors quote their colleagues maintaining that it is not only this composer who can produce positive mood dynamics in participants of the experiment. It is claimed that a lot of classical works contribute to considerable improvements of the test results in the music-exposed groups compared to the control groups. However, as the main experiment thesis was not confirmed, the scholars claim that the effect of Mozart’s music as “a brief and easy remedy to improve intellectual skills” is rather overrated. It proves once again how vulnerable the unscientific stratum of society is to bold and striking assumptions. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the works of Mozart do have some effect on the psychological conditions of people. Probably, one successful experiment is not enough to claim that this music can also have a beneficial effect on cognitive capabilities, but revealing the true situation based on facts is what science should deal with.
C. Background Music and Its Effect on Human Brain
A separate category to be investigated is background music and the way it impacts our brain. It should be noted that, in this aspect, there also exist differences between classical and popular music. A lot of people claim they literally cannot work or study in total silence, and that is why their radios or players are always on to help them concentrate. The implications of this process were explored by British psychologists Adrian Furnham and Anna Bradley who investigated the effects pop music produces on cognitive skills of people with polar social characteristics. They chose extraverts and introverts as objects of their study. The main characteristics that had to be tested for influence of background music were memory and attention, and the respondents were offered tasks for checking immediate and delayed memory and reading comprehension parameters. The authors mention that the implications of background music present interest for three branches of psychology: applied, cognitive and personality theory. They also claim the role of music in work productivity was topical in the 1940’s and 1950’s. At those times the scientists managed to discover dependencies between these characteristics, the type of music, and the kind of performed work. The outcomes of such researches turned out to be very informative and fruitful for psychological science. The most important of them was that the claims of actual production result increases were not proven. However, the additional findings are also worth mentioning. They include such facts as preference of music at work by factory workers, general preference of instrumental music compared to the vocal one, a fair percentage of those who disapprove such a distraction (1 to 10 %) and even negative effect of work music on some respondents. Age and experience factors were also taken into consideration, and it was discovered that the older the workers are, the less likely they are to approve music at work place, and that music may increase productivity characteristics of inexperienced workers only, while those who have been working for a long time do not show any work improvements. The studies revealed the presence of physical reaction to music by some respondents; in this case, music can be considered a kind of stimulation arousing a feeling of euphoria which manifests itself in blood pressure fluctuations. The choice of fast- or slow-paced music also plays a significant role in task performance. Fast-paced rock songs enhance the results despite of the view that such music creates more distraction. Some studies show that music at the workplace can also improve workers’ morale. The theoretical basis of the own work of Furnham and Bradley included notions that introverts need less stimulation than extraverts to reach their highest productivity level, and it should be taken into consideration when examining the factor of background music. The findings showed that extraverts were more apt to increase their performance figures with the presence of distraction. Delayed memory turned out to be low when music played during the tests. It was also established that as the participants of the experiment got used to the sound background, the distraction effect actually became lower. The article by Furnham and Bradley is valuable due to the fact that it gives recommendations to people of different psycho-social types on maximizing their work capacity with the help of music.
The topic of the influence of background music on work performance is also investigated by Anneli B. Haake. The merit of her research lies in referencing a wide profession selection. In the literature review the author mentions, for example, that self-selected background music improves the performance of surgeons generating feelings of relaxation leading to increases of accuracy and speed of task performance (14). The researches revealed even that music can change the levels of pain tolerance, help to find motivation for task performance, and manage the levels of energy more efficiently. Self-selected music turned out to generate more positive work responses, as it was reported by a group of scientists headed by Oldham whom Haake quotes. Insignificant as it may seem, the morale of the employees plays a great role in general productivity figures, as it is understood that the inner state of the workers has its effect on the quality of job they perform. Music obviously helps to improve the mood of the workers and make their attitude towards work more positive. Moreover, the favorable effect of music can be applied both to those involved in monotonous work and those who deal with complex task solutions during their workday, scientists maintain. The subchapter of Haake’s thesis devoted to the approaches to “functional music”, the way background music is scientifically called, by sociology and musicology presents special interest. She mentions that, during the 1970’s, the theory of functional music was severely criticized by European scholars, and there were two directions of critique: the aesthetic one implied that this type of music is inferior to “real (classical) music,” the ideological one maintained that there are certain manipulating purposes in investigating the issue (18). Modern times brought another aspect to the problem: the ethics of using music in order to increase commercial revenues. Activists of this movement fight for people’s right for silence, privacy, and freedom of choice. One cannot leave unattended a fact noticed by some scientists that the sheer presence of music at work tends to blur the boundaries between work and leisure leading to some distortions of psychological attitude towards working conditions. The author explains this fact by the presence of historical background to the issue claiming that nowadays music in offices can be viewed as a transitional period between the times prior to the Industrial Revolution when singing at factories was viewed as a beneficial and synchronizing factor and the post-industrial technological environment (197). Those are rather social than psychological tendencies, but they should also be mentioned as they become more and more topical. Concluding her literature review, Haake maintains that music at work can be a stimulating factor of performance quality only applied in moderate quantities. As well as, in a lot of spheres of life, excess tends to lead to negative results. The areas where such results can be applied are also mentioned by the author and include social, music, personality and organizational psychology (apart from irrelevant fields).
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The results of the scholar’s own study show that self-selected music at work performs a range of functions: affecting managements, escapism and interruption management (88). The outcomes also revealed a high level of self-awareness in the choice of music, as the employees often understood and predicted themselves what kind of music can be stimulating at work and what can be a distracting factor. Some respondents claimed that exposure to music at work made them more creative. However, there were a number of the employees participating in the study who simply did not relate listening to music to work environment and thus treated exposure to music at work as a rather irritable factor. These are manifestations of individual features, for the respondents decided themselves what to regard as pleasant sounds and what to treat as noise. However, it has been proved scientifically that noise at work can act as a very performance deteriorating factor increasing stress and even leading to appearance of certain medical symptoms. In such a way, a lot of respondents valued the ability to listen to music at work as a chance to minimize office noise (193). It became a proof that office background music can become a factor improving psychological well-being of the employees. Based on division of the results of the study, according to the patterns of internal and external needs, Anneli B. Haake designed certain methodological recommendations. For instance, she established four possible behaviors of listening to music at workplace: responsible, irresponsible, sympathetic occasional or non-listening, and unsympathetic non-listening (201). These are valuable characteristics for employers showing such features of their workers which, otherwise, could be left unnoticed. It can be supposed that, in a situation when a person is presented with unexpected freedom, his or her personal and professional features may be revealed in full measure. Thus, for example, those who acted with respect to the needs of the others during the conducted experiment, thus being responsible self-selective listeners, should be definitely defined as employees with high loyalty and work ethic levels. This particular research proved the prevalence of responsible listening throughout the sample. Haake summarizes that a lot of factors should be taken into consideration while analyzing the effects of background music on work performance (such as time of exposure, genre, medium, attitude towards the experiment, and personal psychological characteristics), but there is an undeniable fact: music at work does influence productivity. And her study managed to prove that the self-selected music influenced work productivity to a greater extent than the music imposed on the whole office, which must be taken into consideration by managers.
The intersection point of classical and popular music in terms of influencing human brain also presents scientific interest. The experiment carried out by Texas scholars Charles Areni and David Kim was aimed at delimiting the comparative effect of these two genres applicably to marketing strategies. Their findings revealed that background classical music playing in a wine store made customers spend more money. In their view, it is a proof that music appears to be more persuasive when it is selected with the regard to the context. The role of the context becomes obvious due to quite palpable parallels between refined drinks and sophisticated music as attributes of a single social and cultural domain. The age factor should also be taken into consideration when analyzing the effects of different genres. In their research Areni and Kim maintain that the scientific domain of investigating the influence of music on consumers’ behavior is a field lacking keen scientific interest. The related previous studies included examining of the impact of music volume and tempo on shopping behavior and only supposed that the variation of the genre playing in a certain shopping area may lead to different results. The research presents valuable conclusions for entrepreneurs maintaining that retail dealers should pay attention to the symbolic meaning of purchases (338). Thus, the effect of music proves to be an important factor to be considered with marketing purposes.
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Comparison of classical and popular music in the role of a background is addressed by Anneli B. Haake in terms of influencing work performance. Citing the outcomes of the researches carried out by her colleagues, the scholar mentions that classical music played in working conditions can exert both relaxing and concentrating influence on the employees (34). Haake claims, however, that issue of higher suitability of certain genres and incompatibility of the others in office environments still remains a field yet to be investigated. In such a way, the rivalry of classical versus popular background music remains an open question in the psychology of work performance.