Do you have an office playlist featuring all the artists that centrr you and keep you zen? Or is your work playlist more of a "get hyped" one that keeps your energy levels on par with the sound waves?
And when you forget to pack your earphones in your work bag, don't you just feel like your entire day has been ruined?
A lot of us can relate to at least two of these questions as it's common for young professionals who work in open plan offices to plug music into their ears in order to avoid distractions.
Between your colleague who loves sharing unsolicited - albeit amusing - anecdotes about their curious, witty four-year-old and the colleague who volunteers information about their latest Tinder adventures, sometimes one just wants to mute the office and crank up the volume on Spotify, Tidal or Apple Music no matter how fascinating your colleagues' animated stories are.
But before you turn up that dial today, you might be interested to know that three new studies led by psychologists Emma Threadgold and John Marsh of the University of Central Lancashire in England, debunked everything we thought we knew about how music can enhance our productivity and/or creativity.
This research published in the journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology concluded that "background music, with or without lyrics, consistently disrupts creative performance in insight problems."
This is based on the findings that "a changing sequence of sound disrupts serial recall to a far greater extent than a non-changing sequence of steady-state sound."
Psychologists Emma and John's research entailed getting participants to perform 38 tasks, 20 of which were relatively easy and 18 that were difficult. The participants were prescribed different types of music through the various tasks which all proved to hamper productivity versus when they worked in absolute silence.
I know from my student days that I required different sound environments for different tasks - U.K. House/Jazz and other alternative genres for working on assignments and absolute silence for studying for tests and exams, which is an experience further supported by this study, as it notes that "a changing sequence of sound disrupts serial recall to a far greater extent than a non-changing sequence of steady-state sound."
My colleague also shares the same sentiments, as she also studied in silence as a student.
However, I often saw people who studied with earphones in and did not seem to have their performance affected by it.
And this is where a contradictory 2017 study shared in the Pacific Standard comes in. This study found that "one specific type of music— fast-paced, uplifting classical pieces, such as Vivaldi's The Four Seasons—enhanced a key component of creativity: divergent thinking, or the ability to use one's imagination to come up with new concepts, or innovative hybrids."
But even so, it was concluded that listening to music to oil your creative gears is, in fact, quite stifling to the outcome.
So we'll leave this one to you. Do you disagree with these findings and feel that music actually makes you productive and boosts your creativity?
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