Music at Work

Studies have tested the effect of different types of music on cooperative behaviors of individuals working together as a team.  The research reports, perhaps not surprisingly, that Music can have important effects on cooperative efforts.

It shouldn’t be a surprise; music and work has a long history of cooperation: “Working on the Train Gang” is in itself a song about the toil and drudgery of work, both a personal and a cooperative sense, and singing about it as they helps lessen the drudgery.

What office today doesn’t have it music, either collectively through canned music, or through personal radios and recorders? Researchers found that music can have important benefits on the cooperative spirits of those exposed to music,  researchers explored this question in a pair of lab experiments and found that music can have important effects on the cooperative spirits of those exposed to music.

In a paper published by the Journal of Organizational Behavior, describe two studies conducted to test the effect of different types of music on the behavior of individuals working as a team.

For each study, participants were grouped into teams of three. Each team member was given tokens with the option to contribute to the team buy using tokens or keeping  the tokens for themselves.  

When “upbeat” and more popular music was played, the team members were more likely to share their tokens with the group.   When heavy metal or lesser known songs were played, participants were more likely to keep the tokens for themselves. When happy, upbeat songs were played the majority was more apt to share their tokens.