Investigating the effect of background music on cognitive and skill performance: A cross-sectional study

Work. 2022;71(4):871-879. doi: 10.3233/WOR-213631.


Background: Existing studies on the impact of background music in the workplace have reported varying results, from improving production and performance to being known as an annoying factor. Given the lack of evidence of the background music influence on the cognitive factors in the work place in previous studies and the lack of study on the effect of background music on skill performance when gender and personality type is considered, research in this area seems necessary.

Objective: The purpose of the present study is to investigate the influence of background music on cognitive and skill performance in the work place with regard to gender and personality type.

Methods: This study was conducted with the participation of 52 students (26 males and 26 females) aged between 18-30 years old. Sustained attention, working memory, fine finger and gross manual dexterity skills and personality type were assessed. Participants were randomly tested once when being exposed to classical instrumental music and once again when faced with complete silenceRESULTS:Playing background music improved students working memory but had no significant effect on sustained attention. Music also improved skill performance.Overall, memory performance and fine finger dexterity were found significantly better in extroverts when compared to introverts during playing background music.

Conclusion: Background music improves working memory and speeds up performance in skill tasks, however the role of personality type in influencing background music on cognitive and skill performance needs further investigation.

Keywords: Cognition; cognition; motor skills; music; personality; technology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Music*
  • Young Adult