Music in workplace can improve teamwork

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music in workplace

Music can strongly influence our mind and behavior. In shopping centers, mangers and advertisers play music to encourage customers buy their products.

In sports, athletes can have greater performance when competing with their favorite music. In classrooms, light music and classic music can help students concentrate and learn better.

However, the impact of music is not just on individuals. A recent study shows that music in workplace can improve relationships and improve cooperation. The finding is published in Journal of Organizational Behavior.

In one experiment, researchers tested if happy music in workplace contributed to more cooperative behavior. Two groups of adults were recruited: one listened to happy songs (e.g., “Yellow Submarine”, “Walking on Sunshine”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, and “Happy Days”), whereas the other group listened to unhappy songs (e.g., “Smokahontas”, “You Ain’t No Family”).

During listening to the music, participants in each group played a cooperation game to either contribute to the team’s value using tokens (i.e. cooperative behavior) or keep the tokens for personal use.

The result showed that people contributed to the team more when listening to happy music.

In another experiment, researchers added a no-music group, and tested the mood of all three groups before, during, and after music listening. Participants played the same game.

The result showed that people were more cooperative in the happy music group. In addition, they had happier mood when listening to happy music.

A causal relation analysis showed that happy music led to happy mood, which increased cooperative behavior. In addition, happy music could also directly increase cooperation.

Researchers suggest that music can be a group-bonding tool in workplace. It can make employees have a better mood and do better teamwork. This is especially important in high-density workplaces, where people get angry and frustrated easily.


Citation: Kniffin KM, et al. (2016). The sound of cooperation: Musical influences on cooperative behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) doi: 10.1002/job.2128
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