Work Smarter//

Listening to This Type of Music Could Make You More Creative

Goodbye silence, my old friend.

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

For your next brainstorming session, consider queueing up some feel good tunes: new research published in the journal PLOS ONE found that listening to “happy music” could make your thinking more flexible and help you come up with innovative ideas, according to the study’s press release.

Simone Ritter, PhD, from Radboud University in the Netherlands and Sam Ferguson, PhD, from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, recruited 155 participants to research the relationship between creative thinking and music. Participants completed questionnaires that measured their current mood, and were split into five groups. Four of the groups each listened to a different type of music—calm, anxious, happy or sad—while performing cognitive tasks testing their creativity, while the fifth group served as a control, completing the same tasks to the tune of silence.

The researchers found that happy music—defined in the press release as “classical music that is positive valence and high in arousal”—helped participants come up with more creative solutions compared to working in silence. Specifically, those participants scored higher on divergent creativity than convergent creativity. That difference is key: divergent thinking involves making “unexpected combinations, recognizing links among remote associates, or transforming information into unexpected forms,” according to the study. Convergent creativity, on the other hand, is more about coming up with the “best, well-established, or correct answer to a problem where an answer readily exists,” the study said.

This suggests that happy music could make our thinking more fluid, and that “creative cognition may be enhanced through music,” according to the press release. This could be used as a cost-effective and efficient way to improve creativity in classroom or office settings, the press release notes.

So depending on your task, instead of toiling away to the sound of white noise or coffee shop sounds, try putting on something the researchers define as happy, like this.

Read the press release here and the study here

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.