Tags: noise | music | creativity | background | ambiet

Background Sounds Boost Creativity

Thursday, 17 May 2012 12:27 PM

Maybe there’s a reason so many students, writers and self-employed workers lug their laptops and notebooks to Starbucks, instead of toiling away at home. New research shows ambient background sounds, including music and even noise, may boost creative thinking.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia and University of Virginia, found a moderate level of ambient noise -- about 70 decibels, equivalent to a passenger car traveling on a highway -- enhances performance on creative tasks and encourages abstract “out-of-the-box” thinking.
"We found that ambient noise is an important antecedent for creative cognition," said lead researcher Ravi Mehta of British Columbia. "A moderate level of noise not only enhances creative problem-solving but also leads to a greater adoption of innovative products in certain settings."
But the study found high levels of noise – 85 decibels, the equivalent to traffic noise on a major road – hurts creativity by becoming a distraction, while too-low levels have no impact whatsoever.
“It's the Goldilocks principle – the middle is just right," Mehta said.
Mehta noted the study was designed to evaluate whether moderate ambient music or noise piped into retail stores could increase consumers’ odds of purchasing “innovative products.” But while the findings have “important practical implications for inducing consumer behavior [that] should be useful for both advertisers and marketers,” he noted they are not only applicable to consumer research, but also to problem-solving in general.
"This is research that people can relate to almost immediately," he said. "I'm working in a coffee shop – how does the noise in the background volume of the music affect my performance?
It's also valuable for individuals looking for creative solutions to everyday problems, such as planning a dinner menu based on limited supplies or generating interesting research topics to study.
"Our findings imply that instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking outside of one's comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment like a cafe may actually trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas," Mehta said.

© HealthDay

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New research shows ambient background music and even noise may boost creative thinking.
Thursday, 17 May 2012 12:27 PM
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