Do you listen to music while studying? A portrait of how people use music to optimize their cognitive performance
SourceActa Psychologica, 220, (2021), article 103417
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OW PsKI [owi]
SubjectDonders Centre for Cognition
The effect of background music (BGM) on cognitive task performance is a popular topic. However, the evidence is not converging: experimental studies show mixed results depending on the task, the type of music used and individual characteristics. Here, we explored how people use BGM while optimally performing various cognitive tasks in everyday life, such as reading, writing, memorizing, and critical thinking. Specifically, the frequency of BGM usage, preferred music types, beliefs about the scientific evidence on BGM, and individual characteristics, such as age, extraversion and musical background were investigated. Although the results confirmed highly diverse strategies among individuals regarding when, how often, why and what type of BGM is used, we found several general tendencies: people tend to use less BGM when engaged in more difficult tasks, they become less critical about the type of BGM when engaged in easier tasks, and there is a negative correlation between the frequency of BGM and age, indicating that younger generations tend to use more BGM than older adults. The current and previous evidence are discussed in light of existing theories. Altogether, this study identifies essential variables to consider in future research and further forwards a theory-driven perspective in the field.
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