Music May Impede Work Performance

Music May Impede Work Performance

A recent study examines how productivity and efficiency can be negatively affected.

Lisa Baldini
  • 2 august 2010

As we have become an iPod nation, soundtracks often play an integral roles in our daily routines. As such, some companies have become quite relaxed in allowing employees to listen to music during work hours. Yet, how music affects performing tasks is only recently beginning to be understood. Applied Cognitive Psychology recently conducted research on how music may impede our efficiency:

The researchers explored the ‘irrelevant sound effect’ by requiring participants to perform serial recall (recall a list of 8 consonants in presentation order) in the presence of five sound environments: quiet, liked music (e.g., Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Stranglers, and Arcade Fire), disliked music (the track “Thrashers” by Death Angel), changing-state (a sequence of random digits such as “4, 7, 1, 6”) and steady-state (“3, 3, 3”). Recall ability was approximately the same, and poorest, for the music and changing-state conditions. The most accurate recall occurred when participants performed the task in the quieter, steady-state environments. Thus listening to music, regardless of whether people liked or disliked it, impaired their concurrent performance.

While this study may have different variables affecting its accuracy, including the participant’s mental relationship with the music, this does give credence to the ‘silence is golden’ mentality adopted by so many libraries.

Wiley InterScience: “Can preference for background music mediate the irrelevant sound effect?”

[via: Science Daily]

Image by Veer.

Veer has recently relaunched its site,, with a simplified, easy to use interface allowing for enhanced and simplified image search. The site, which is a go-to source for creative and affordable stock photography, illustrations, fonts and merchandise, helps people add style to business, marketing, and personal design projects.


Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Sustainability Today

Modern Home Created Entirely Out Of Modular Shipping Crates

A project in Ecuador used the ubiquitous material to design a spacious and industrial-chic house

Retail Today

Retail Concept Offers Food Hall Inspired Space For Online Brands

The store will offer a lower cost way for internet entrepreneurs to try physical retailing


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Work

See All
Advertising Today

Disney Retells Beauty And The Beast On Snapchat

In a partnership with LACMA, the entertainment platform drew from over 130,000 works in the museum's collection

Technology Today

Honda Has 3D Printed A Fully Electric Minivan

The car manufacturer partnered with product developer Kabuku to create the small versatile vehicles

Related Expert

Eric Ryan

Style & Substance Entrepreneur

Innovation Yesterday

After The Initial Success Of AR Gaming, What Does The Future Hold?

With Pokemon GO earning up to $10m a day, R&D departments are busy searching for the next phase

Arts & Culture Yesterday

The Next Great Art Movement Will Come At The Swipe Of A Finger

An improved app, optimized digital display and monthly art discovery service round out Electric Objects' renewed commitment to democratizing the art world

Media & Publishing Yesterday

A TV Streaming Service Is Designed Just For Kids

Toca TV is a new platform offering thousands of original and curated children's videos for a monthly subscription fee


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 24, 2016

Community Builder: How to Hack Slack

Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid, describes how she's using an internal team communication tool to build a network of thousands

PSFK Labs Yesterday

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Travel Yesterday

Bus Stop Transformed Into A Fitness Station For Commuters

Sports drink company Lucozade live-streamed an athletic trainer working out at a stop in Manchester to encourage travelers to get moving

Beauty Yesterday

Shiseido And Microsoft Have Created A Makeup Filter For Women Who Telecommute

The Japanese cosmetic company built an augmented reality app that works alongside Skype for Business

Mobile Yesterday

Samsung Is Using AR To Help Beachgoers Stay Safe

Pocket Patrol utilizes a phone's camera to promote beach safety and educate people about hidden hazards

Design & Architecture Yesterday

500 Plastic Chairs Used To Create A Recyclable Pavilion

Design agency CODA built a grandoise art piece from simple lawn furniture

Retail Yesterday

Exchange Your Old Razors For New Ones At This Bartershop

The subscription-based shaving company lets customers trade their unwanted razors for Harry's brand steel at a temporary New York pop-up

Food Yesterday

A Brewer Has Created The Most Expensive Chips To Snack On

St. Eriks Brewery created crisps made from rare mushrooms to go with its artisan beer, donating all proceeds to charity

Op-Ed Yesterday

Marketing Experts: Millennials And The Power Of Cool

'Good Is The New Cool' Authors Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones share their 7 principles for branding with a social impact

No search results found.