Background music: effects on attention performance

Work. 2012;42(4):573-8. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2012-1410.


Objective: Previous studies indicate that noise may affect worker attention. However, some background music in the work environment can increase worker satisfaction and productivity. This study compared how music with, and without, lyrics affects human attention.

Participants: One hundred and two participants, aged 20-24 years, were recruited into this study. Fifty-six males and 46 females participated in this study.

Methods: Background music with, and without lyrics, was tested for effects on listener concentration in attention testing using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study.

Results: The comparison results revealed that background music with lyrics had significant negative effects on concentration and attention.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that, if background music is played in the work environment, music without lyrics is preferable because songs with lyrics are likely to reduce worker attention and performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Attention* / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Dichotic Listening Tests
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music / psychology*
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sound / adverse effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Workplace / psychology
  • Young Adult