Photograph by: Carl Dwyer
We experience background music daily in the 21st century, whether in a shop, the car or at work.
The impact of music on an individual's concentration when working and general mood can vary from person to person, with some thriving when accompanied by a beat and others finding themselves distracted. But why is this? And why can music alter our mood so much?
A lot of it comes down to personality, research shows. Various studies demonstrate this, with one showing that extroverts work better with music in the background compared to introverts.
A study conducted on 89 workers also revealed that the influence of background music on productivity depends on how much the listener liked that particular music. It showed that the likelihood of the music distracting workers would increase in relation to how much the workers liked or disliked the music. The report concluded that, for best productivity, workers should feel ambivalent about the background music.
Another study that looked into how music affects a worker in their daily activities at their desk, showed that listening to music prior to a task actually boosted attention, compared to those who listened to music during the test.
So music can definitely influence your concentration at work, but what about your mood?
Upbeat music has its obvious reasons for increasing your mood. Faster, happier melodies and more positive lyrics all have their influence on boosting how you feel. On the flip side, sadder music can make the listener relive negative feelings and memories.
A study conducted at Durham University and the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland showed that, for some, sad music could be pleasurable to listen to, stemming from a sense of comfort of enjoyment of the music. However, a significant portion of people experienced a more distressing mood from the sad music as it induced personal memories of experiences such as loss, divorce and breakups.
Professor Tuomas Eerola, lead researcher of the study, said: "The results help us to pinpoint the ways people regulate their mood with the help of music".
So, the impact of music on your mental wellbeing and work performance all comes down to who you are as a person. You might be distracted by music when working, and dislike listening to sad songs, but the person you sit next to at work, or on the bus, could well be the complete opposite. And that is the beauty of the psychology of music; it is individual to everyone.