Work Outcomes Affected by Music

In our paper, we describe in detail how executive functions (i.e., executive attention, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility) are impacted by music by its immediate physiological and emotional effects. Executive functions form the foundation of several key higher-level cognitive abilities such as planning, reasoning, and problem solving, all of which are important for successful performance at work. For instance, tasks that are highly complex, novel, creative, and require adaptability would rely greatly on working memory and cognitive flexibility. Successful performance on these type of tasks is based on one's ability to update and incorporate new information and switch between multiple activates and ideas. On the other hand, tasks that are simple, routine, and emphasize quantity and speed should rely more on inhibitory control and executive attention capabilities. These types of task generally require a greater vigilance and concentration to avoid making mistakes and meet performance standards. For example, both simple and routine tasks require a narrower range of task cues because, although the task may be simple and well learned, concentration on these tasks may be difficult due to the often boring and repetitive nature of the work.

Performance on complex and creative tasks may be enhanced when listening to the following examples, because these songs are low in complexity, in a major key, and are moderate in tempo and dynamic variation. These characteristics facilitate cognitive flexibility and working memory. Likewise, workers may be better able to adapt to new rules or situational demands following a task change if listening to such music. The instrumental examples are likely better for performance on these types of tasks or work goals than the examples with lyrics.

Performance on simple and routine tasks may be enhanced when listening to the following examples, because these songs are fast in tempo, have high dynamic variation, are complex and are in a minor key. These characteristics facilitate executive attention and inhibitory control. The vocal examples are likely better for performance than the instrumental examples.

Task quality is likely to be higher when listening to the following examples, because these songs are moderate in tempo and dynamic variation, complex, and are in a minor key. These characteristics facilitate executive attention and inhibitory control. The instrumental examples are likely better for performance on these types of tasks or work goals than the examples with lyrics.

On the other hand, the following examples are likely to facilitate task quantity or speed, because these songs are fast in tempo, have high dynamic variation, are low in complexity and are in a major key. The instrumental examples are likely better for performance on these types of tasks or work goals than the examples with lyrics.