How Background Music Encourages Teamwork

By: SoniaWed, 08/22/2018
Background Music Encourages Teamwork

Many studies have been conducted on music's effect on consumer behaviour, but more is being researched into the effect background music can have on staff motivation and productivity. This sort of research is especially relevant to employers who strive to create workspaces that promote productivity and teamwork.

Kevin Kniffin, a researcher at Cornell University, conducted a study on the influence of background music on co-operation. Results from the study indicate that participants who listen to 'happy,' rhythmic music were inclined to co-operate more irrespective of factors like age, gender, and academic background, compared to those who listened to 'unhappy,' less rhythmic music. This positive boost in the participants’ willingness to co-operate was induced regardless of whether they liked the music or not. When people are in a more positive state of mind, they tend to become more agreeable and creative, while those on the opposite spectrum- in a less palatable mood- tend to focus on their individual problems rather than giving attention to solving group problems.

Rhythm has a strong pull on people's behaviour through synchronization. When people listen to music with a steady pulse, they tend to imitate the beat by getting in sync which translates into better co-operation when making decisions. Small inexpensive adjustments to the office atmospherics, such as the music tempo, can assist in team co-operation and workflow.

Music, as an atmospheric, has a uniquely powerful magnetism when it comes to changing sensibilities and thoughts affecting an individual’s ‘helping behaviour’.

Helping behaviour is described as voluntary actions taken by an individual intended to assist others with reward considered or ignored. Two elements of music, in particular, create this draw on someone’s opposing emotional poles, namely the song’s feel and its lyrics. In a study, conducted by the academics North, Tarrant, and Hargreaves, two similar gyms were given specially designed playlists to test music’s effect on helping behaviour. The first was given upbeat music to induce a positive mood, and the other was given annoying music to evoke a negative one. The participants exercising to uplifting music were more willing to engage in helping behaviour after their workout compared to other groups.

There is also a link between song lyrics and prosocial thoughts. The findings of a study by Anderson, Carnagey, and Eubanks noted the relationship between violent lyrics and the aggravation of hostile feelings in participants. Greitmeyer indicated that participants in his research, designed to test the effect music has on generosity and social awareness, donated more money to a non-profit organization after being exposed to positive, prosocial lyrical content.  

In summary, businesses should consider how music represents their brand and supports their customer’s shopping habits. In addition to this, music’s effect on staff should also be taken into account as its feel, rhythm, tempo and lyrical content have a significant influence on teamwork and helping behaviour.


Suttie, J. (2016). Retrieved from

Doyle, K. (2016). Retrieved from

Ganser, J. & Huda, F. (2010). Music’s Effect on Mood and Helping Behaviour. UW-L Journal of Undergraduate Research XIII. Retrieved from