Listening to music helps work teams collaborate, says study

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Listening to music while at work can help improve team or department cooperation, a new study has revealed.

American researchers at the University of Cornwell conducted a number of tests with participants to assess the impact of music on their willingness to contribute to their team.

When happy, upbeat music was played – researchers chose the Happy Day’s theme song, Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, Yellow Submarine by the Beatles and Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves – team members were more likely to contribute to the group’s value.

When music deemed unpleasant was played – in the study, heavy metal songs by lesser known groups – participants were less likely to look outside themselves and help their colleagues.

Kevin Kniffin, lead author on the paper, said: ‘Music is a pervasive part of much of our daily lives, whether we consciously notice it or not.

‘Music might melt into the background in places like supermarkets or gyms and other times it’s very prominent like places of worship or presidential nominating conventions. Our results show that people seem more likely to get into sync with each other if they’re listening to music that has a steady beat to it.’

He continued: ‘Lots of employers spend significant sums of time and money on off-site teambuilding exercises to build cooperation among employees. Our research points to the office sound system as a channel that has been underappreciated as a way to inspire cooperation among co-workers.’

The findings from the paper are published in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour.