The influence of music on mood and performance while driving

Ergonomics. 2012;55(1):12-22. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2011.638403.


Mood can influence our everyday behaviour and people often seek to reinforce, or to alter their mood, for example by turning on music. Music listening while driving is a popular activity. However, little is known about the impact of music listening while driving on physiological state and driving performance. In the present experiment, it was investigated whether individually selected music can induce mood and maintain moods during a simulated drive. In addition, effects of positive, negative, and no music on driving behaviour and physiological measures were assessed for normal and high cognitive demanding rides. Subjective mood ratings indicated that music successfully maintained mood while driving. Narrow lane width drives increased task demand as shown in effort ratings and increased swerving. Furthermore, respiration rate was lower during music listening compared to rides without music, while no effects of music were found on heart rate. Overall, the current study demonstrates that music listening in car influences the experienced mood while driving, which in turn can impact driving behaviour. PRACTITIONERS SUMMARY: Even though it is a popular activity, little is known about the impact of music while driving on physiological state and performance. We examined whether music can induce moods during high and low simulated drives. The current study demonstrates that in car music listening influences mood which in turn can impact driving behaviour. The current study shows that listening to music can positively impact mood while driving, which can be used to affect state and safe behaviour. Additionally, driving performance in high demand situations is not negatively affected by music.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Auditory Perception
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music / psychology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Young Adult