John E. Marsh: "Does Background Music Help or Hinder Creativity?"

  • Date:
  • Location: Blåsenhus – Betty Pettersson Hall
  • Organiser: Department of Psychology
  • Contact person: Patrik Juslin
  • Seminarium

The Open Seminar in Music Psychology

John E. Marsh, University of Central Lancashire (UK): "Does background music help or hinder creativity?"


Abstract
There are several claims that exposure to background music can enhance people's creativity. However, a more common observation is that background music hinders cognitive performance, especially when the task is verbal in nature. In this talk, Dr. John Marsh presents evidence that background sounds such as music mostly impair creative performance as measured via verbal tests of creative processing. He attempts to address why this is the case through considering the component processes underpinning the verbal tasks tapping creativity and their susceptibility to disruption via the passive processing of sound. He relates the observed disruption to cognitive mechanisms of distraction within short-term memory, and retrieval from long-term memory. Focusing on the modality of the focal task, he offers some speculative suggestions as to how and why background music might improve people's creativity.