Study finds upbeat music may boost cooperation in workplace

Happier music can affect staff members' moods and influence workplace cooperation, according to a new study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Researchers divided 78 participants into two groups. One group listened to upbeat music like "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles, while the other group listened to heavy metal songs.

While the music was playing, participants each used a computer application to play an economics game that allowed them to either keep their tokens or allocate them to a group pool that would be split among the participants at the end of the study. The tokens represented a monetary value and those in the pool group were worth 1.5 times more than individually-owned tokens. Researchers found that participants listening to the happy music contributed more tokens to the group pool.

In a second version of the study, researchers repeated the process with a no-music control group and measured participants' moods. A happier mood was again linked to more group token contributions, according to the report. [A1]The heavy metal music put participants in a worse mood than the other groups, but did not effect token contribution.

"Interestingly, we find that mood helps to explain some of the relationship — such that people's moods get lifted by happy music — but we also find a statistically independent effect for happy music in relation to cooperation," lead author Kevin Kniffin, PhD, of Cornell University in New York, told Reuters.

"Given that having a good rhythm is a definitional feature of happy music, our article suggests that people are partly motivated to cooperate when happy music is being played because of the rhythm's tendency to get people into sync with each other," Mr. Kniffin said, according to Reuters.

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