Courtney Allan

Why background music “significantly impairs” your creativity

Why background music “significantly impairs” your creativity

Psychologists from the University of Central Lancashire, University of Gävle in Sweden and Lancaster University have asked people to complete verbal problems that are believed to stimulate creativity.

This is to test whether or not background music stifles creativity.

Participants were presented with three words and were asked to find a single word that when combined, make a common word or phrase. For example, if you chose the word “sun”, the combined word could be “sundress”, “sunflower” and “sundial”.

Participants then performed the task while listening to music with unfamiliar lyrics, music with familiar lyrics or instrumental lyrics. The researchers also tested the effect of silence and quiet background noise from a library.

Dr Neil McLatchie from Lancaster University explained that music stifles creativity. He told the ABC that the team “found strong evidence of impaired performance when playing background music in comparison to quiet background conditions."

This means that even though you’re listening to your favourite song, it’s still impairing your creativity.

Even music that participants liked or made them feel good still stifled their creative juices.

The research results suggest that music disrupts verbal working memory.

However, there was no difference found between quiet background noise and silence.

McLatchie believes that this was because of the steady state of background noise that doesn’t disrupt verbal processes.

For those of you who want to listen to music whilst you’re working away, classical music that makes listeners feel happy has been found to stimulate creative thinking.

Do you listen to music whilst working? Let us know in the comments.