Should You Listen to Music While Studying?

Approaching a topic like this one is never an easy task. Mainly because of the contradicting results of almost every conducted research about the effects of listening to music during activities that require your full concentration, but also because listening to music at all times feels so good (writer’s biased opinion).For many of us, music is a necessity, a remedy that soothes the soul and helps us get through everyday obligations. For others, it’s nothing but a background noise, and depending on style and genre, it can be an unwanted distraction at its worst. So, what’s the scientific opinion on this?

Music Affects Your Mood

Based on one research, music that makes you feel good when you listen to it is the one that will have positive impact on your cognitive performance as well. This means that your favorite singer’s voice, or guitar player’s virtuosity will trigger a certain part of your brain every time you hear it, causing mood elevation and therefore increasing your overall productivity. The problem is that same research showed a completely opposite effect on other examinees, meaning they weren’t able to concentrate with their favorite music playing in the background, because it was simply drawing attention from more important tasks. It was apparent that the examinees in this group were enjoying music too much to concentrate on what they should be doing, while the other group had difficulties working in silent environment. Nevertheless, both groups found it nearly impossible to work and study while being disturbed by background noise, such as traffic, construction works, loud talking, laughter etc., which brings us to a conclusion that silence wasn’t working for some, but noise was devastating for everyone. In these situations having an iPod by your side is a must, if you belong to a music lovers group, and if you’re a silence guy – buying a pair of best earbuds you can find will prove to be a good investment. But whatever you do – just don’t procrastinate!

The Importance of Music Genre and Style

Choosing a subtle and more repetitive genres over heavy inconsistent musical styles will have a much better effect on your studying, according to another research on the subject. Makes a lot of sense, because we can’t imagine anyone passing the exam after a month of studying with black metal playing in the background (though there’s no doubt it works for some hardworking, weird people).There’s a few myths about how listening to classical music will significantly increase your memory and concentration, especially Mozart’s piano sonatas, but these claims haven’t been proved by any relevant research yet. It’s been proved, however, that listening to quiet, simple and repetitive tones you feel neutral about might help you to concentrate better. Browse the YouTube for “isochronic tones and binaural beats for studying” and you’ll get the idea of what we’re talking about. These tracks are specially designed and produced to massage your brain and help you focus, and we think they really work.

Personality and the Type of Task

One recent research has found that student’s personality and the type of task he/she has to deal with needs to be taken into consideration as well. The results showed that introverted people had more trouble concentrating while listening to background music, while it had no negative effect on extraverted people at all. Anxious people also found it difficult to relax and concentrate while studying in silence, so it is suggested they listen to calming music, like certain classical pieces or Indian meditation soundtracks. People who aren’t skilled in multi-tasking couldn’t concentrate while listening to any kind of music, and people who’ve been dealing with long periods of fatigue had trouble staying awake while trying to study in silence. Features of the task also play a crucial role, so if you’re studying complex material (math, programming, astrophysics) there’s a great chance you’ll find everything distracting. As you can see, the results are mixed just like individual experiences of examinees, which makes a lot of sense.

So… Should You Listen to Music While Studying?

The truth is – there is no definite answer. It’s one of those subjects that has been dividing the scientific community for a while now, because like we said – the actual research results vary from one person to another. Some positive effects of listening to music while studying have been found, so if you feel better without silence, there’s no reason to stop playing your favorite tunes. But also, if you find that music is giving you a hard time concentrating and have developed an effective method of working without background distractions, you don’t have to change anything, right? The point is to focus on your productivity and whatever helps you achieve your goals quickly and efficiently without damaging your health – keep doing it! Science will be on your side either way.


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