SpaceSonology

Musical tempo and waiting perceptions

Quick research facts

Slow-tempo music evoked satisfaction, positive disconfirmation of expectations, and relaxation compared to fast-tempo music. Background music produces positive affective responses for short-waits, but negative affective responses for long-waits.

Musical tempo and waiting perceptions

ABSTRACT

 

Digital technology was used to isolate musical tempo from other musical variables, and experimental results in an undergraduate registration queue context confirmed the existence of a significant, positive relationship between background musical tempo variation and temporal perception (perceived minus actual wait duration). Findings also revealed how slow-tempo music produced significantly enhanced affective response (satisfaction, positive disconfirmation of expectations, and relaxation) compared to fast-tempo music.

RESULTS

 

The findings from this experiment are unique in reporting the existence of a significant, positive relationship between background musical tempo and temporal perception. The slow-tempo (short-wait) treatment was distinctively the only treatment in which the mean perceived duration estimate remained shorter than the mean actual wait. In all other treatments, mean perceived duration expanded well beyond mean actual wait duration. The restraining influence of slow-tempo music upon perceived duration estimates was negated as the length of wait became longer, and the significance of the relationship eroded as irritation levels rose in the transition from short- to long-waits.

H2: Positive affective response was significantly enhanced by the use of slow rather than fast-tempo music , and the significant relationship embraced short- and long-wait bands. In addition, each of the factors comprising positive affective response (satisfaction, positive disconfirmation of expectations, and relaxation) was significantly enhanced by slow rather than fast-tempo music.

Results revealed how temporal perception estimates contracted in the presence of background music. Presence of music also produced significantly higher levels of positive affective response for short waits, whereas long-waits in- duced significantly higher levels of negative affective response, sug- gesting that music may become a negatively intrusive distraction for longer waits.

IMPLICATIONS/LEARNINGS

How to conduct similar music research for your brand

STEP 1

HYPOTHESES 

H1:  Mean temporal perception (perceived minus actual wait dura- tion) will be a positive function of faster background musical tempo setting.

H2:  Positive affective response will be a function of background mu- sical tempo setting.

  • Popular, jazz, or classical music.
  • Data were collected from queuing university students over a period of 4 days.
  • Slow-tempo music (104 – 129 BPM, average 114.2 BPM) vs. fast-tempo music (130–179 BPM, average 145.4 BPM).) vs. no music.
  • The total duration of the five compositions at fast-tempo was 26 min and 49 s; whereas the duration at slow-tempo was 33 min and 42 s.

STEP 2

METHODOLOGY

STEP 3

Survey/Measurement

Satisfaction With Wait Duration
Overall satisfaction with waiting times was measured on a 5-item scale ranging from very dissatisfied (1) to very satisfied (5).

Disconfirmation of Wait-Duration Expectations
Disconfirmation of wait duration expectations was measured on a 5- item scale ranging from much longer than I expected (1) to much shorter than I expected (5).

Evaluative (Relaxing/Stressful) Response to the Registration Process Waiting Scenario
Subjects evaluated their feelings about the registration process on a five-item scale ranging from very relaxing (1) to very stressful (5).

Background Music Disliking/Liking
Subjects were asked to indicate their responses to the background music on a 5-item scale ranging from very enjoyable (1) to very irritating (5).

Appropriateness of the Background Music Tempo
Subjects were asked to indicate the appropriateness of tempo of the background music on a three-item scale ranging from too slow (1) to too fast (3).

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