Background music can make us less cautious

Background music is a feature of most people’s everyday lives. Whether it’s while driving, at the gym, at home, or even at work, we often have music playing while we’re doing something else. Research into precisely how this affects our behaviour, emotions and cognitive processes have provided mixed findings, however. One of the reasons, argue Agustín Perez Santangelo at the University of Buenos Aires and colleagues, is there are so many variables, both in terms of the type of music used in the studies, and also the aspects of performance being measured — so it’s no wonder that results have been inconsistent. 

Santangelo’s team decided, therefore, to explore changes in just one musical variable — tempo — and to look for effects on two individual aspects of decision-making: speed and accuracy. And they report in their paper that background music did indeed have an effect: it made the participants less cautious. Continue reading →

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