Listening To Happy Music Enhances Flexibility In Thinking, Boosts Creativity

Listening to happy music may help people to come up with more creative solutions instead of listening to silence, according to a study.

The study was published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Simone Ritter from Radboud University, The Netherlands, and Sam Ferguson from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. In our complex, rapidly changing environment, creativity is a crucial quality since it enables us to find creative solutions for a variety of issues and to come up with original ideas.

While music has previously been shown to improve cognition, little is known about how listening to music specifically impacts creative cognition. The subject of what supports creative cognition has long been investigated.

Impact of type of music on divergent and convergent creative thinking

Researchers divided 155 participants into experimental groups after having them complete questionnaires to examine the impact of music on creative cognition.

One control group listened to silence, while the other three groups listened to one of four genres of music that were labelled as peaceful, joyful, sad, or anxious based on their emotional valence (positive, negative), and arousal (high, low).

Participants underwent a variety of cognitive activities that examined their divergent and convergent creative thinking once the music began to play. Divergent creativity was higher among those who produced the most unique and practical answers, but convergent creativity was higher among those who produced the task’s single best solution.

Variables involved in the happy music condition may enhance flexibility in thinking

In contrast to the quiet, the researchers discovered that listening to happy music—which they define as classical music with positive valence and high levels of arousal—encourages more divergent creative thinking.

The factors at play in the cheerful music condition, according to the authors, may increase mental flexibility, allowing participants to consider new options that might not have come to mind as quickly if they were completing the job quietly. This study demonstrates that music may improve creative cognition. Future studies could investigate how various ambient noises may affect creativity and involve individuals from different cultures, age groups, and musical expertise levels.

The authors speculate that their study may also show how inexpensive and effective music listening might foster creative thinking in a variety of institutional, educational, and professional settings.

Story Source:
Materials provided by PLOS. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Simone M. Ritter, Sam Ferguson. Happy creativity: Listening to happy music facilitates divergent thinking. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (9): e0182210 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182210

Page citation:
PLOS. “Listening to happy music may enhance divergent creativity: Participants hearing positive, arousing music came up with most original solutions.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2017. <>.

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