They say it has the power to move us. For that reason, it’s an ever-present force in our culture. Music is said to influence people in many ways, but is there scientific evidence to suggest our notions of music’s influence is true?
Music can certainly be used as a tool of distraction. Elevator music is perhaps there to take your mind off the fact that about 27 people are killed and 10,200 are injured in elevator accidents each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic — which keeps a running tally.
Music is there to have a calming affect when you’re put on hold during customer service calls. A study published by Karen Niven in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of Applied Social Sciences looked at the most affective music for lowering customer anger.
“Compared with days when instrumental background music was played, caller anger and employee exhaustion were lower on days when callers were played popular music with neutral, but not pro-social, lyrics,” the study concluded.
Music is used in medical, dental and other healthcare waiting rooms to soothe patients before their visit. A study published by JM Armfield and LJ Heaton in the Dec. 2013 issue of the Australian Dental Journal confirmed its use to positive affect.
“There is evidence that focusing attention on specific alternative visual or auditory stimuli in the dental clinic might be beneficial for patients with mild to moderate dental anxiety,” the study said.
Studies have discovered that music can put minds at ease, even after the rigors of surgery.
A 2015 study examining 6,902 patients, carried out by researchers from Queen Mary University, Barts Health NHS Trust and Brunel University in London, found that, “Music reduced postoperative pain, anxiety, and analgesia use, and increased patient satisfaction.”
But does music have the power to actually heal an ailing body? While some experts believe it does, the afore mentioned 2015 study said that the length of hospital stays did not decrease in patients who listened to music during recovery.
While music may not heal your body, there is little doubt that it can heal your spirits and enhance productivity. A study done among education professionals published in the 2013 issue of Values-Based Management agreed.
“The findings revealed that majority of professionals believe that music evokes and influences emotions at work, helping them to stay emotionally balanced and hence increase their productivity,” the study observed.
Music can influence us positively, or be used to get us to do something we otherwise wouldn’t.
Music has the power to influence your purchases by tapping into your deepest emotions, according to a 2015 study on music in advertising by the Nielsen Company.
“While it’s important for consumers to remember the message in your ad, connecting on an emotional level can directly lead to a purchase. So the best ads are the ones that have both information and emotive power,” the study cites.
Music often provides that emotive connection, and that’s why advertisers have no problem with paying top dollar to license the latest pop hits that can sometimes run them six-figures.
Before a lawsuit resolved the copyright around the song last year, “Happy Birthday” pulled in as much as $2 million a year from advertisers and studios looking to capitalize on the timeless jingle.
Still others argue that music can be a menace on the soul. A review of studies on “problem music” published in the May-June 2014 issue of “Aggression and Violent Behavior” agreed.
“A systematic review of the literature identified the following genres as having negative influence on listeners: alternative rock, hard rock, heavy metal, hip-hop/rap, punk rock, rock and trance/house/electronic/techno. Research showed that those genres were associated with substance and alcohol abuse, opposing authority and rebelliousness, impulsive and antisocial traits, violent behavior, and delinquency,” it said.
One of America’s worst school shootings, at Columbine High School in 1999, was blamed on the killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris indulging in violent forms of entertainment including music and video games, reigniting hearings in Congress.
Music can certainly move the human spirit. However, the varied findings of researchers suggests that individuals are in control of what it moves them to do. Whether it be achieving a calmer state of mind, providing a distraction from real-world issues, making ill-advised purchases or even engaging in illicit behavior, man seemingly makes the music, not the other way around.
By Jason Jordan, www.eveningtribune.com, www.msidallas.com