Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Does Certain Music Make Us Feel Powerful and Act Differently as a Result?

Dennis Hsu, Li Huang, Loran Nordgren, Derek D. Rucker and Adam D. Galinskyhave conducted some interesting new research regarding the impact that music has on our behavior.  According to Kellogg Insights, the key research question that these scholars asked was: "Could listening to the right kind of music—even in the background—make us feel more powerful and in control?"  The scholars conducted several experimental studies to try to answer this question.  The researchers first had a set of subjects rate different songs with regard to how powerful, dominant, and determined they felt when listening to that particular music.  For instance, the famous Queen song, We Will Rock You, was rated very highly... it made most subjects feel powerful.   Then they conducted studies using the music that subjects had rated as either high-power or low-power songs. 

For instance, Professor Derek Rucker noted, “One thing we know from prior research is that people who feel powerful tend to make the first offer in negotiations. Essentially, power is a propensity to act, to take charge of the situation."   One of these experimental studies indeed showed that people listening to a "high-power playlist" indicated that they would prefer to go first in a debate more often than those who listened to a "low-power playlist."  

In sum, music - even in the background - does affect how we feel, and it may affect how we behave in crucial situations.   It can have a significant effect on our feelings of psychological empowerment.  So, what song do you want to play next time you have to enter a crucial meeting or negotiation at work?  

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