CAREER DEVELOPMENT / DEC. 12, 2014
version 2, draft 2

The Mozart Effect At Work: The Powerful Music Strategy


If you are not familiar with the Mozart effect, it is the theory that listening to Mozart (the classical composer) could improve one’s performance of ‘spatial-temporal reasoning tasks’.  In other words, if you are a Mozart fan, you are likely to be considered rather intelligent. In fact, it wouldn’t be so outrageous to suggest that you are likely to be a productive worker too. And this is because research has shown that listening to Mozart’s music really can improve short-term performance on mental tasks.

With this in mind, can the Mozart effect really work, at work?

Whether your office allows Mozart to be played softly in the background, or it permits the radio on full blast with rock, pop and some hip-hop tunes keeping you upbeat throughout the day, the fact remains that music at work is productive.

According to research carried out by academics from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, certain types of music can have a profound effect on a person’s productivity. It was found that “the right music can put you in a better frame of mind to perform tasks”. Certain songs could make you feel more empowered, whilst others had the opposite effect. The majority of respondents that took part in the research rated the following 3 songs (from a range of music played to them) evoked feelings of being powerful:

  1.             “We will rock you” by Queen
  2.             “Get ready for this” by 2 Unlimited
  3.             “In Da Club” – 50 Cent

The Kellogg School of Management research also found that those participants, who listened to the abovementioned ‘powerful’ songs, were the first to volunteer when it came to go first in a debate. In fact, those who listened to the powerful playlist chose to go first in a debate twice as often as those who listened to a less powerful playlist. This means that listening to powerful music before a job interview, or before giving an important presentation at work, could really boost your productivity, motivation and confidence to perform at your best.

Empowering music should be a workplace strategy

Employers are seriously overlooking the benefits of playing ‘empowering’ music in the office for their employees. Whilst many traditional workplaces have strict rules against things such as listening to music at your desk, many new workplace environments (that do allow the radio or music channels to be played), are not harnessing the full advantage of playing only those songs that will make their staff feel empowered and therefore, more productive. It is a fine line between music that could be a distraction or worse, have a lethargic effect on staff, and music that is fine tuned to get your blood pumping and energy levels up.

Check out this infographic by MusicWorks (research conducted by MindLab) on how music can make us more productive.  The results may surprise you!

Do you listen to music at work? Does your company have favourable policies on music in the workplace? Let us know about it in the comments section below!

Image source: dailyinfographics

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