Need a creativity boost? Try listening to happy background music

Need a creativity boost? Try listening to happy background music

“People in lots of contexts use music to help them work,” says Ferguson. A better understanding of how different types of music affect creativity is likely to be useful for many people, he says.

They put 155 volunteers into five groups. Four of these were each given a type of music to listen to while undergoing a series of tests, while the fifth group did the tests in silence.

The tests were designed to gauge two types of thinking: divergent thinking, which describes the process of generating new ideas, and convergent thinking, which is how we find the best solutions for a problem.

Ritter and Ferguson found that people were more creative when listening to music they thought was positive, coming up with more unique ideas than the people who worked in silence.

“We also tested other musical excerpts that were sad, anxious and calm, and didn’t see this effect,” says Ferguson.  “It seems that the type of music present is important, rather than just any music.”

However, happy music – in this instance, Antonio Vivaldi’s Spring – only boosted divergent thinking. No type of music helped convergent thinking, suggesting that it’s better to solve problems in silence. …

They put 155 volunteers into five groups. Four of these were each given a type of music to listen to while undergoing a series of tests, while the fifth group did the tests in silence.

The tests were designed to gauge two types of thinking: divergent thinking, which describes the process of generating new ideas, and convergent thinking, which is how we find the best solutions for a problem.

Ritter and Ferguson found that people were more creative when listening to music they thought was positive, coming up with more unique ideas than the people who worked in silence.

“We also tested other musical excerpts that were sad, anxious and calm, and didn’t see this effect,” says Ferguson.  “It seems that the type of music present is important, rather than just any music.”

However, happy music – in this instance, Antonio Vivaldi’s Spring – only boosted divergent thinking. No type of music helped convergent thinking, suggesting that it’s better to solve problems in silence.

By Inga Vesper, New Scientist

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