Most people will testify that they are at their most productive with their favorite song playing in the background. I’ll whip you up a mean bean stew if I can have Hiatus Kaiyote’s ‘Choose Your Weapon’ or Kendrick Lamar’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ for company. Now there’s actual quantitative data to prove that you are not only more likely to produce more with music, but also to be more of a team player. It also matters the type of music playing.
A researcher at Harvard conducted an experiment in which he divided participants into three groups of three to play a game in order to measure the effect (if any) music had on the desire to cooperate. Members of each group were given tokens which they could either contribute to increase their funding as a team or keep for their own individual funds. During the sessions happy, upbeat music was played for the first group. The second group had heavy metal music in the background while the last had no music at all. At the end of a few rounds it was found that the team listening to happy songs such as ‘Yellow Submarine’ by The Beatles and ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison were the most willing to give their tokens for the good of the team. On the other hand, the team that listened to hard, aggressive, or ‘unhappy’, music were found to be just as uncooperative as the one that didn’t hear any music at all.
The researchers extrapolated their findings to the world of commerce, drawing the attention of managers and business owners to the positive effect something as readily and cheaply available as music can have in boosting productivity. Most companies recognize the power of music in inducing people to purchase. For this reason they will have vibrant music playing softly in their outlets. But few of them have tapped into the power of music to boost the synergy and output of their employees. They pour thousands of dollars into expensive offsite team-building activities and retreats when a cheaper solution could be within their reach. So if you are a manager, take notes and get the right songs playing out your speakers.
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