The Effect of Music on Performance of a Task
In order to investigate whether music affected performance of a task,
and experimental technique was used, variables were manipulated and
The aim of this study was to investigate whether different music
styles affected the performance of a task. It was a novel experiment,
only loosely based on previous research dating back to the 19th
The method involved three groups of participants undertaking a test
(solving thirty anagrams). One group had fast music in the background,
one had slow music and the third performed it in silence. The
participants were primarily selected via a systematic sample, but this
would have been changed to an opportunity sample had some participants
not turned up.
It was hypothesised that there would be significant differences
between a) fast and slow music, b) fast and no music and c) slow and
A two-tailed Mann-Whitney U test at a significance level of p=0.05
revealed that all three alternative hypotheses were accepted and null
The data collected illustrated that having slow music playing in the
background improved performance of the task compared to performing it
in silence, while fast music worsened performance.
The implications of this study, its limitations and suggestions of
follow up studies will be further discussed.
Social influence describes how other people around us can influence
our actions. It is especially relevant in situations where groups of
people are performing a task together, as discovered by Triplett in
one of the first social influence experiments, conducted in 1898. He
found that when children were asked to spin a fishing reel, it was
spun faster when they were performing in groups than on their own.
This effect was termed 'social facilitation', as the presence of
others appeared to help, or facilitate, the person performing the
task. This idea was also supported by Allport (1920), who demonstrated
that college students performing multiplication tests also worked
faster alongside other students. But there is an opposite side to
social facilitation - social loafing. This describes the process
whereby when in a group, an individual puts less effort into a task.
Latane, Williams and Harkins (1979) demonstrated this to good effect
when they found that when children were asked to be noisy, they were
more quiet when they were in the group and were louder on their own.
Another factor that could affect performance of a task is music. From
Beethoven to the Bee Gees, music has had an impact on most of us
somewhere in our lifetime. It is only comparatively recently however
that it has become seriously analysed and tested in different
situations in order to recognise its...