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Music at work increases cooperation, teamwork: study

New York: Exposure to happy music has the power to make the workplace more cooperative and supportive, new research has found.

The researchers concluded that happy music provokes people to more often make decisions that contribute to the good of the team. (Photo: Pixabay)

Researchers at Cornell University in the US conducted two studies to test the effect of different types of music on the cooperative behaviour of individuals working as a team. For each study, participants were grouped into teams of
three. Each team member was given multiple opportunities to either contribute to the team’s value using tokens or keep the tokens for personal use.

When happy, upbeat music was played, team members were more likely to contribute to the group’s value. When music deemed unpleasant was played, participants were more likely to keep tokens for themselves. The researchers found contribution levels to the public good when happy, upbeat songs were played were approximately one-third higher compared to the less pleasant music.

When researchers conducted a second experiment testing how people react when no music is played, the results were the same. The researchers concluded that happy music provokes people to more often make decisions that contribute to the good of the team.

“Music is a pervasive part of much of our daily lives, whether we consciously notice it or not,” said Kevin Kniffin, a behavioural scientist at Cornell. “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,” said Kniffin. “What is great about these findings, other than having a scientific reason to blast tunes at work, is that happy music has the power to make the workplace more cooperative and
supportive overall,” Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, added.

The researchers suggest managers consider not only the customer experience but also workers’ when picking the day’s music. Starting the day with this simple consideration in mind could result in happier employees and more teamwork.
The research was published in the Journal of Organisational Behaviour.