Home Research Rock music said to be distracting for men; women unaffected

Rock music said to be distracting for men; women unaffected


Concentration levels of men seem to be affected in a negative way by rock music, a study has found, while women seem to be largely unaffected by such music.

Researchers at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music asked 352 visitors at the Imperial Festival to play the game Operation – a game that requires players to remove various body parts from a pretend patient while ensuring that the tweezers do not touch the metal sides of the body. The volunteers were required to play the game while hearing one of three tracks – Andante from Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart, Thunderstruck by AC/DC, or the sound of an operating theatre.

The study found that men were negatively affected by rock music – AC/DC in this case – as they played the game at a much slower pace while also making more mistakes, compared to those men who listened to Mozart or the sound of an operating theatre. Thunderstruck triggered around 36 mistakes on average, while the Sonata and operating theatre noises caused 28. Women, however, did not seem to be distracted by the rock music, and none of the three tracks made any difference to performance or speed.

While the team isn’t entirely sure why rock music affected men more than women, one possible explanation could be that this particular kind of music causes more auditory stress – a state triggered by loud or discordant music – in men and hence affected concentration levels as well as performance during an activity.

Music Therapy

Multiple studies have been carried out previously to understand how music helps people with medical conditions; how it helps in boosting concentration levels; and how it could help in work places and almost all studies agree that music has positive effect.

According to a study published in Deutsches Ă„rzteblatt International in June earlier this year, classical music by Mozart and Strauss notably lowered blood pressure and heart rate, whereas no substantial effect was seen for the songs of ABBA. All musical genres resulted in notably lower cortisol concentrations. As far as cortisol concentrations were concerned, the sex of the participants likely played a part, because the drop in cortisol levels was more pronounced in men than in women, especially after exposure to the music of Mozart and Strauss. Comparison with the control group showed that the effect of music was far greater than that of silence.

A team at Cornell University found that music can have important effects on the cooperative spirits of those exposed to music in a workplace.

A study published in April by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) shows that a series of play sessions with music improved 9-month-old babies’ brain processing of both music and new speech sounds.