Does music help you work?

Back to News Publish Date: 5-Jun-2007
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Does music help you work?

The British Psychological Society has reported research that suggests how we use music can depend upon our personality.

There are according to research conducted by Tomas Chamarro-Premuzic and Adrian Furnham three ways in which people use music.

  • As a background to other activities,
  • To 'regulate our emotions' - to cheer ourselves up, say, or perhaps to wallow in sadness
  • As an 'intellectual pleasure', admiring the musicians' technique or the complexity of the composition.

Crucially, Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham believe the way we use music is related to our personality and intelligence. They surveyed 341 British and American university students (aged 17 to 41), and found students with a higher IQ, and those more open to new experiences, were more likely to listen to music for the deliberate, intellectual appreciation of it.

Meanwhile, neurotic types, who tend to experience regular bouts of negative emotions, and introverts, were more likely to say they listened to music as a way of coping with, or changing their mood.

Some people insist that they must work in silence, while others believe they can't do without some musical accompaniment, but in this study, neither intelligence, nor any of the personality measures, were associated with this use of music.

The researchers concluded: "Bearing in mind the many variables that may mediate and moderate our choice and motive for listening to music, the consistency with which personality and intelligence factors are associated with an individual's style for listening to music, is quite remarkable".

They added that more work was needed in this area, especially cross-cultural studies.

Work Place Learning Centre would like to here about how you use music at work, at home or in learning situations

Members of the Work Place Learning Centre team are available to provide journalists and media organisations with expert comment on all aspects of learning at work.

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