A new study has found that listening to music may have a negative impact on creativity. This is contrary to the popular idea that music and creativity often go hand in hand. According to the researchers, the negative impact was found even in cases where the music had a positive impact on mood and was liked by the person listening to it. However, background noise didn’t have the same effect.
Music is often used for background noise while studying and as a way to help increase someone’s creativity while working on a project. The psychologists behind a new study have found this routine may have the opposite effect, actively impairing — rather than boosting — the individual’s creativity. The findings were based on three experiments.
In one experiment, the researchers exposed volunteers to background music containing unfamiliar lyrics, while in another they were exposed to music with familiar lyrics. In another experiment, participants listened to instrumental music that didn’t contain lyrics. While listening to the audio, participants were given three words and tasked with identifying a single word that each had in common.
In contrast to participants who completed the task in an environment with a quiet background, the participants who listened to background music had ‘impaired performance.’ However, unlike listening to music, the researchers found ‘no significant different’ between the group that worked in silence and the group that worked in a noisy library.
Unlike music, the noise in a library provided a ‘steady state’ environment, which had less of a disruptive effect on participants. Though studying with background music may not completely obliterate someone’s ability to think creatively, the research indicates that you may do your best work without it.