How Music can Make us More Productive
Music makes us happy, sad, and every other emotion known. According to Kathleen R. Keeler, a doctoral student, and Jose M. Cortina, Ph.D., a professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, who have researched the link between musical characteristics and job performance looks at immediate physiological and emotional responses elicited by music and how they affect performance. They found that other facets such as volume, lyrics, familiarity and musical preference also can potentially influence work outcomes.
Work songs were widely used by a variety of occupations, such as factory workers, agricultural labourers, sailors, and miners. The Muzak Corp. developed "functional music" after World War II, making programmable music accessible for the traditional office setting—and elevators.
Task quality is likely to be higher when listening to songs that are moderate in tempo and dynamic variation, such as The Zombies' "She's Not There" or Rachmaninoff's "Morceaux de Fantasie." Songs such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" or the "Theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark" are likely to facilitate task quantity or speed, because these songs are fast in tempo, have high dynamic variation, and are low in complexity.
"Music can be helpful, harmful or inconsequential depending on the type of music and the type of task on which you are working," Cortina said. "The overarching reason is that music with different characteristics has different effects on emotion and physiological arousal, which in turn affects attention."