Archived entries for creativity
So this post from Scholastic suggests that listening to music before, but not during, a task improves performance. Um, with some qualifiers:
A 2010 study by Dr. Nick Perham found that people did better at recalling numbers without background music. (Interestingly, people thought they did better while hearing music they liked than while hearing music they disliked, but performance was the same.) However, some research shows listening to music before (but not during) a task can boost energy and performance.
I was curious. What types of numbers? How many of them? Were the subjects asked to do anything with the numbers afterwards? Did they write them down or simply recite them from memory? So I tracked down the study, “Mental Arithmetic and Non-Speech Office Noise,” because that’s how I roll. I suspect that this is not the study referred to in the post cited above, but it’s darn close, focusing on the effects of office noise versus no noise in a preparatory environment.
Guess what? Office noise is distracting! One experiment tested office noise without words, another one with. Both were lousy at helping recall compared to a quiet setting.
The blog’s author, however, says he finds quiet environments “unsettling.” And frankly, totally quiet environments are rare unless you’re sealed in a protective bubble in space, and even then I suspect you’d hear your own breathing and heartbeats as loud as shouts.
I personally am a fan of Coffitivity, a free website that streams background noise from different coffeeshop settings. I loved it at first; then I began to recognize and anticipate when the tray drops and the guy coughs.