The Psychology of Sound
How Sound Effects us and
Sound and Its Effects On Our Brain
Research indicates that volume, speed and type of music can have profound
effects on our behaviour for example it can have effects on a product we may
choose in a shop, our emotions, how much we eat or drink and how much
money we spend to name but a few.
Studies suggest that listening to classical music decreases tension, even in those
for whom classical music is not their preferred genre.
However, listening to classical music does not necessarily affect other feelings or
increase overall intelligence. The ability of music to influence feelings appears to
vary depending on musical preference.
While a number of researchers have associated heavy metal music with
depression or anger, these effects do not occur when heavy metal is the listener’s
A study of more than 1,000 gifted students aged 11-18 found that heavy metal
music is used for cathartic release and to dissipate negative emotions, particularly
among those with low self-esteem.
However, A study of the effects of different types of music found that after listening
to grunge music, subjects reported increases in fatigue, tension, sadness and
hostility, as well as decreased mental clarity, vigour, relaxation and compassion.
However, grunge was likely not the musical preference of these subjects—a study
of grunge fans may have produced different results.
Studies have been conducted to assess the effects of listening to rap music on
teenagers and young adults. Findings thus far are mixed, but overall they suggest
that listening to rap music does not cause aggressive or deviant behaviour.
And so the Jury is still out with regards to this!!!!
Take retailers for example, they play certain genre’s of music, at a certain volume and tempo
as it has been proven that it has significant effects on how long consumers spend in shops
and restaurants, how much they purchase or consume, and whether they view brands or
individual products favourably or not.
In department stores that play Top 40 music, shoppers over 25 believe that they have spent
more time shopping, whereas in those that play instrumental easy listening music, those
under 25 feel that they have been in the store for longer than they have. Thus, unfamiliar or
less-preferred music slows down perceived time for the shopper.
Music volume is negatively correlated with shopping time. However, people in grocery stores
playing loud music make just as many purchases despite shopping for a shorter period of
time. This indicates that sales per minute are much higher when music is played loudly than
with soft background music.
Retail Example Cont…
Experiments conducted in the 1980s found that in both supermarkets and restaurants, slower
music creates slower traffic flow, which means that people shop for longer in the supermarket
and spend more time eating and drinking in the restaurant.
When slower music was played, supermarkets saw significantly higher overall sales volumes,
with one supermarket study reporting an increase in sales of 38% in the slow music condition.
This is unsurprising, as consumers who are moving more slowly are more inclined to see
additional items they would like.
Restaurants playing slow music had longer waits for tables and much higher customer bar
bills. Interestingly, although restaurant patrons did not eat more in the slow music condition,
they drank far more.
Music and Advertising
It is found that people are more inclined to desire a product that has been advertised in
conjunction with music they enjoy than one that has been paired with unappealing music or
no music at all.
It is a proven fact that consumers are also more likely to buy products when the music used
to advertise them is aligned with the product. These effects work for both individual
products and entire brands.
In addition to whether or not music is the consumer’s preferred type, a connection between
music and the product being advertised is also very important. Such as “Everyone is going
Surfing” could be used as the music to advertise Surfing equipment.
The most effective music used in advertising is that composed specifically to match the
product, although recall of advertising messages can also be enhanced by using popular
songs, particularly when the music is played without lyrics. Those listening to the
advertisement are inclined to sing along, supplying the missing lyrics either in their minds or
overtly, which increases their involvement with the advertisement and the likelihood that
they will remember it afterwards
• For more information on all of this here is
a useful website