Music actually does not directly affect the behavior of those exposed to it. As someone who listens to music at least every once in a while, you would know that immediately when you turn on B.o.B or Taio Cruz that you are more than likely not going to break out into dance. It may happen, but there are other controlling factors: the environment that you are in, the people that you are with, what you are wearing, these external factors outside of the music will help to determine your behavior.
Music however has been proven to affect people's emotions. As you listen to the blues, it might create more mellow feelings, or jazz may relax you more. Some listen to classical music while they are studying in order to concentrate better, it is all of matter of personal preference. However, these emotions can sometimes lead to action, and then in turn the music has actually affected your behavior, more indirectly though.
This short research paper posted goes into further detail as well as referencing many studies conducted by doctors and professors in Europe and in North America.
Check out the informative yet somewhat comical video under the "Videos" tab in the sidebar or see the Music and Behavior video in higher quality on YouTube. Unfortunately, the music and commentary at the beginning and the end of the video were cut off in the YouTube version but there is no important information in either of those parts.
THESIS: Music affects human behavior in some way.
The purpose of this study was to determine the affect that music has on people’s behavior, specifically music in the foreground, with respect to tempo, volume intensity and musical modes. The study of atmospherics, specifically Muzak as a case study, sparked my interests in the effects that music can have on behavior. Over the course of the research, I looked into many related studies to support my theory that music does have an impact on an individual’s behavior and that it may be possible to manipulate that individual in some way by playing certain types of music.
Music has been used to effect emotions based on major verses minor modes in many ways. The major mode has been used in musical theory for centuries to convey an uplifting spirit and rejoicing. Take for example the hymn, “All Glory, Laud and Honor,” written circa 820 by Theodulph of Orleans. The hymn only speaks of the praises of God and there is nothing that refers to human deprivation or inadequacy. The hymn is also performed in the church in the key of G major. “Earlier research by Hevner in the 1930s that showed major modes to convey feelings of happiness, merriment, sprightliness, and playfulness, whereas music in the minor mode was more likely to suggest sadness, dreaminess, tenderness, and yearning” (Sutton,420). The minor mode has often been used in classical music and other genres to convey a feeling of longing or sadness. Many war movies, especially World War II movies like Saving Private Ryan and the TV series Band of Brothers, will use classical pieces in the minor key to indicate mourning after a devastating battle to increase the audiences ability to relate with the characters in the story.
Emotions often will affect how individuals act unless these emotions are suppressed. Music however has a tendency to bring out emotions rather than suppress them and the modes can determine which kinds of emotions are increased. A study was done by Dr. Kendall Roberts and his team of medical doctors to determine an individual’s emotional response to music and how it is associated with certain types of behavior. “Since different pieces of music can elicit different emotional responses and different types of music have been associated with risk-taking behaviors, it is possible that risk-taking teens also have a greater intensity of emotional response to music stimuli” (Roberts, 50). In their findings, they could determine that behavior is indirectly affected by certain types of music, specifically the genres of music that the subjects listened to. Genres of music can usually be associated with certain keys and tempos. For example, blues is usually a slower style and often in the minor key whereas the bluegrass genre will usually be represented by quicker speeds.
Evidence of this effect of tempo on both emotion and action has been demonstrated in a study conducted in the UK by Nicola Dibben of the University of Sheffield. This study was done to examine the effect of music on people while they were driving. “Music’s ability to reduce stress is well documented, and music which induces listeners into a positive and relaxed mood has the potential to elicit more considerate driving, since people in positive moods tend to behave more altruistically” (Dibben, 584).
This study shows that not only can music that is in the forefront induce positive and relaxed emotions, but also that the behavior associated with the emotion is reflected in a completely unrelated activity.
As seen in many of the previous studies, music in many ways has the ability to affect people’s emotions and in turn sometimes their behavior, but the indirect effect of behavioral control through emotions is not the only way that music can affect action. A study at the University of Plymouth was conducted to examine what effects different volume intensities and tempos would have on someone running on a treadmill. The researchers observed that when people exercise to music, they typically select the faster, louder music rather than slower and softer pieces. This, the group perceived, suggested that there may be something about the relationship between music and exercise performance. Judy Edworthy and Hannah Waring of the School of Psychology at Plymouth found that listening to music can help with performance in certain ways, mainly in relation to the song's tempo.
“Thus, heart rate increases if the volume of fast music is increased, but not if the volume of slow music is increased. This, together with the main effect found for tempo, suggests that tempo is more important than loudness in increasing heart rate, but that at the higher levels of heart rate (fast music) increasing the volume can add a little more to heart rate” (Edworthy, 1606).
While tempo and volume do not seem to affect performance overall, this study did show that these two things together, in the correct mixture, can increase the heart rate, which in turn, when mixed with emotions that are enhanced by the mode, could affect a person's behavior.
Further studies have been done in this specific area to see how certain types of music affect performance and behavior. As seen in the previous study, music can affect bodily functions such as increase heart rate, but tempo can also effect the quality of performance in more demanding activities. “Neurophysiological evidence indicates that fast tempo music played during performance of a demanding visual selective attention task leads to enhanced stimulus evaluation, reflected in reduced latency of visual attention event-related potentials” (Bishop, 62). The study conducted by three teachers at Brunel University in London, England, examined a sample of fifty-four tennis players and their performance based on what they listened to before their matches. The three predicted that faster tempi elicited more pleasant and aroused emotional states and higher volume intensity not only supplemented that, but also resulted in faster choice reaction time (CRT) performance.
“…increased arousal and positive emotions have both been shown to accompany superior sports performance (Cerin, 2003; Jones, 2003; Tod, 2003). Music listening may be an appropriate and acceptable strategy for athletes wishing to engender a positive and aroused emotional state; fast tempo and loud intensity may maximize the arousal component of the emotional response” (Bishop, 74).
In the three areas of focus for this research, some trends began to emerge. While major and minor modes had more of an effect on the test subjects' emotions, these emotions and even behavior could be more easily manipulated by changing the tempi and intensity levels. It is important to note that the research here has not correlated music to better performance on the sporting field necessarily, but it has been associated with certain emotional responses, which are more likely to bring out certain behaviors. “Among possible explanations for findings such as these is a suggested link between perception of music pitch and mental, spatial performance, in that music cognition appears to be mapped onto motor areas of the cerebral cortex” (Sutton, 421). There is scientific evidence that music may have a slight affect on movement and reaction time, but this is not necessarily directly linked to specific behavior.
Music has been a form of art that people have listened to and enjoyed for thousands of years, no matter how simple or complex. This study was conducted to examine the idea that music has a direct effect on people's behavior and may be used to even control behavior to a certain extent. Rather than controlled behavior, the research pointed to the idea that based on the mode, tempo, and volume intensity of the music being played, music will affect a person's emotional state, which in turn may in a small way produce a certain behavior based on which behaviors that person associates with the emotions created. Therefore, musical modes, intensities, and tempi may or may not affect an individual's behavior, but it will directly impact their emotional state at some level.
Bishop, Daniel T., Costa Karageorghis, Noel Kinrade. “Effets of Musically-Induced Emotions on Choice Reaction Time Performance.” The Sport Psychologist 18 April 2010: 59-74. Human Kinetics, Inc., 2009.
Dibben, Nicola, Victoria Williamson. “An Exploratory Survey of In-Vehicle Music Listening.” Psychology of Music April 17, 2010: 571-587. Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research, 2007.
Edworthy, Judy, Hannah Waring. “The effects of music tempo and loudness level on treadmill exercise.” Ergonomics 18 April 2010: 1597-1610. Taylor and Francis Group, 2006.
Roberts, Kendall R., Joel Dimsdale, Patricia East, Lawrence Friedman. “Adolescent Emotional Response to Music and Its Relationship to Risk-Taking Behaviors.” Journal of Adolescent Health 18 April 2010: 49-54. Society for Adolescent Medicine, 1998.
Sutton, Catherine J.C., Michael Lowis. “The Effect of Musical Mode on Verbal and Spatial Task Performance.” Creativity Research Journal 19 April 2010: 420-426. Taylor & Francis Group, 2008.