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Studying to music significantly impairs creativity


The common belief that music enhances creativity is disproved by researchers University of Gävle and two universities in England; in fact, music has the opposite effect.

Ung tjej pluggar samtidigt som hon har musik i lurarna

Researchers at University of Gävle and the universities of Lancashire and Lancaster have studied how people are affected by background music while solving verbal problems that demand creativity. The results show that background music significantly impairs people’s verbal creativity.

John Marsh

John Marsh

“We found that the ability so solve problem was significantly impaired if participants had background music in their headphones,” says John Marsh, researcher in environmental psychology at University of Gävle.

“Regardless if the music made the participants feel good, if they liked the music or if they regularly listened to music while studying, music impaired their creative performance.”

However, researchers could not determine any difference in performance when they compared performance in a silent environment to that in a library.

“This could be explained by the fact the background noise in a library is stable and doesn’t change, and this means that it doesn’t become very disruptive,” John Marsh says.

Scientific article


John Marsh, researcher in environmental psychology at University of Gävle
Phone: +46 72-023 41 04
E-mail: jonmah@hig.se

Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo John Marsh: Private

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2021-03-02
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)