How listening to music 'significantly impairs' creativity

February 27, 2019

The popular view that music enhances creativity has been challenged by researchers who say it has the opposite effect.

Psychologists from the University of Central Lancashire, University of Gävle in Sweden and Lancaster University investigated the impact of background music on performance by presenting people with verbal insight problems that are believed to tap creativity.

They found that background music "significantly impaired" people's ability to complete tasks testing verbal creativity - but there was no effect for background library noise.

For example, a participant was shown three words (e.g., dress, dial, flower), with the requirement being to find a single associated word (in this case "sun") that can be combined to make a common word or phrase (i.e., sundress, sundial and sunflower).

The researchers used three experiments involving verbal tasks in either a quiet environment or while exposed to:Dr Neil McLatchie of Lancaster University said: "We found strong evidence of impaired performance when playing background music in comparison to quiet background conditions."

Researchers suggest this may be because music disrupts verbal working memory.

The third experiment - exposure to music with familiar lyrics- impaired creativity regardless of whether the music also boosted mood, induced a positive mood, was liked by the participants, or whether participants typically studied in the presence of music.

However, there was no significant difference in performance of the verbal tasks between the quiet and library noise conditions.

Researchers say this is because library noise is a "steady state" environment which is not as disruptive.

"To conclude, the findings here challenge the popular view that music enhances creativity, and instead demonstrate that music, regardless of the presence of semantic content (no lyrics, familiar lyrics or unfamiliar lyrics), consistently disrupts creative performance in insight problem solving."
-end-


Lancaster University

Related Music Articles from Brightsurf:

Seeing chemical reactions with music
Audible sound enables chemical coloring and the coexistence of different chemical reactions in a solution.

Music on the brain
A new study looks at differences between the brains of Japanese classical musicians, Western classical musicians and nonmusicians.

We feel connected when we move together in time with music
Go dancing! A new study conduted at Center for Music in the Brain at Aarhus University, Denmark, suggest that then moving together with music, synchronous movements between individuals increase social closeness.

The 'purrfect' music for calming cats
Taking a cat to the vets can be a stressful experience, both for cat and owner.

Young people putting music to the crisis: the role of music as a political expression
On February 1, 2020, the journal Young is publishing a special issue on youth, music and crisis involving Mònica Figueras, José Sánchez-García and Carlos Feixa, researchers from the Youth, Society and Communication Research Group (JOVIS.com) at the Department of Communication.

Music is universal
Exactly what about music is universal, and what varies? Harvard researchers have demonstrated that across cultures, people share psychological mechanisms that make certain songs sound 'right' in specific social and emotional contexts.

Why music makes us feel, according to AI
In a new study, a team of USC researchers, with the help of artificial intelligence, investigated how music affects listeners' brains, bodies and emotions.

The brain's favorite type of music
People prefer songs with only a moderate amount of uncertainty and unpredictability, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.

Watching music move through the brain
Scientists have observed how the human brain represents a familiar piece of music, according to research published in JNeurosci.

Storing data in music
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for embedding data in music and transmitting it to a smartphone.

Read More: Music News and Music Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.