Music is used as a tool to manage transitions between working, relaxing and socialising from home, new research from Goldsmiths, University of London suggests.
Commissioned by Google Nest, research by Dr Diana Omigie reveals how music is being used to transition through daily activities and mood states during the extended period of home lockdown.
The study revealed that in over 40% of episodes in which people were listening to music, management of mood and energy levels were given as a reason for listening.
Music listening was most associated with better moods when people were waking up and getting ready for the day and during transitions into activities like socialising, play, and exercise. During the week, using music for aesthetic pleasure and to create the right atmosphere peaked after 5pm when the working day for most was over.
The results showed that mood peaked between 5 – 8pm during the working day, and between 2 – 5pm at weekends when people were engaged in recreational activities. These time periods coincided with the moments in which people were most likely to have reported listening to music to change their mood and energy levels.
The study found that pop music was the most popular genre listened to across the whole day. However, people’s attention to different musical features hinted at how music was being used differently over the course of the day. Following a tendency to focus on melody first thing in the morning, temporal aspects of the music ‘beat, tempo, rhythm’ were attended to most prominently from noon to early evening. Movie soundtracks and ambient music, which were barely listened to during the day, were the second most popular genre post-8pm.
Dr Omigie, a cognitive neuroscientist and course leader for the MSc Music, Mind and Brain in the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, surveyed more than 200 people over five days at the beginning of May 2020. Participants came from a range of age groups, employment statuses, living situations other demographic backgrounds.
Participants were questioned four times a day at random intervals about a range of aspects of life in lockdown, covering their mood, activities, sounds they could hear, if music was present and how and where they listened to it.
The research set out to discover how the use of music and its effects changes over the course of a day as people transition between different activities, exploring how this maps to different areas of the home.
The results showed that people were exercising more at weekends than during the week, and that exercise was the time they reported the greatest control over what they were listening to. Synchronising our body to music during exercise can help exertion feel a bit more effortless prior research has shown, while music during exercise also increases pain control and raises feelings of empowerment and self-esteem.
Cooking was the time people were most likely to be listening to music. Dr Omigie explains: “We may listen to music during mundane tasks for the company music offers. We have a tendency to engage empathy processes when listening to music and we may conceptualise music as a companion.
“Cooking and housework are not activities that tend to use up a lot of our cognitive resources so we have some to spare during these activities. Music offers cognitive stimulation because it is information that we are constantly processing and constantly trying to making sense of.”
Accompanying the study was a consumer survey of 2,500 people which gave a wider breadth of insight into the nation’s mood. The Google Nest survey found that 63% of Brits are not feeling relaxed at home and are relying on music to create different atmospheres.
Google Nest produce smart speakers which can be controlled by voice from different rooms, and play music from online providers.
Nest Sessions - a mood-lifting music experience inspired by psychology takes place online this Bank Holiday (23 - 25 May). For more information on Nest Sessions and how to tune in, please visit the Google Store here. To tune in via your Nest smart speaker, just say ‘Hey Google, talk to Nest Sessions’.