Capabilities and Effects of Background Music

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The Capabilities and Effects of Background Music
S. Wakeley
Wayne State College

Abstract
Nonverbal communication speaks louder than verbal communication; therefore, nonverbal communication, such as background music, needs to be sensibly evaluated. As a form of nonverbal communication, background music is capable of influencing a target audience. In advertising, emotions can be shifted depending on the music being played in the background and the same feelings are then transferred to the product, providing a tremendous advantage in business (Dillman Carpentier, 2010). Music can change one’s mood; in the workplace, an improved mood allows employees to be more content and, overall, more productive. In addition, with the right musical selection, the music is able to increase the amount of information an individual is able to retain (Balch & Lewis, 1996). Various aspects from several studies have been examined, demonstrating the power of background music and music in general.

The Capabilities and Effects of Background Music
Nonverbal communication may be unintentional and speakers may not be aware of their behaviors or it may be just the opposite (Troester & Mester, 2007). However, background music is often carefully selected in order to aid in the desired goal, particularly in advertising (Dillman Carpentier, 2010; Kellaris, Cox, & Cox, 1993). The goals of every businessperson may not be the same; yet, the capabilities and effects of music are rather consistent (Dillman Carpentier, 2010). Whether via television, radio, or in person, music is able to affect the moods of those in the audience (Knobloch, 2003). Music also has the ability to improve the performance of the task at hand of an individual (Fassbender, Richards, Bilgin, Thompson, & Heiden, 2012). According to Balch and Lewis (1996), an increase in memory is also induced by music. In any aspect of business, the effects of music can be utilized and even increase efficiency and productivity. Mood Alteration

One’s mood determines the way one thinks and acts and what is said (Knobloch, 2003; Hunter, Schellenberg, & Schimmack, 2010). According to Hunter et al., “music is the language of emotions” (p. 47). The perception of music determines the emotion felt. The perception of happiness is more often transferred to feeling happy than the perception of sadness and feeling sad (Hunter, Schellenberg, & Schimmack, 2010). Davies (2011) refers to the emotions of music as being contagious. When one is around people who are depressed, that person’s mood adjusts closer to those who are in the depressed state. Similarly, although a person may not actually be sad, a sad part in a movie can make that person feel sad; the same applies to music. Hearing music that sounds happy can make one feel happy and to the contrary. Davies models this as a cause and effect relationship. The music being heard is the cause and the effect is one’s reaction to the music. Whether the reaction is happy or sad is dependent upon the perception of the music to the listener. Sounds that reflect happiness include little amplitude variation, a vast pitch variety, and fast tempo (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1993). Therefore, when one hears these sounds of happy music, emotional contagion is invoked on the subject and causes that person to feel happy. In advertisements, music is selected as an enhancement but also to affect mood. It is a company’s goal to influence potential buyers by creating a positive attitude and feeling towards that company’s product. With a positive image in mind of a particular product, there is a greater likelihood that the consumer will purchase the product (Dillman Carpentier, 2010). An average of more than 9.5 hours of media is taken in by the average American on a daily basis; of those hours, 38% is dedicated to music – all of which affects mood in some way (Knobloch, 2003). In addition, according to Dillman Carpentier, 90% of commercials include...
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