The Effect of Music Listening, Personality, and Prior Knowledge on Mood and Work Performance of Systems Analysts

The Effect of Music Listening, Personality, and Prior Knowledge on Mood and Work Performance of Systems Analysts

Teresa Lesiuk, Peter Polak, Joel Stutz, Margot Hummer
DOI: 10.4018/jhcitp.2011070105
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This research examined the effect of music use, personality and prior knowledge on mood and work performance of 62 Systems Analysts. Although the quality of the data modeling task did not appear to be affected by the experimental treatment of 10 minutes of music listening, the level of extraversion, modeling proficiency, and theoretical knowledge related to modeling showed significant effects. Nevertheless, the effects of music were demonstrated on several mood measures. The effect of music on negative and positive affect, along with their subscales, are presented. Finally, changes in the mood of participants who listened to the music are examined in the light of various demographic and personality variables.
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Early studies demonstrated an interest in increasing employees’ attentiveness during tedious, but important work tasks. Introducing music to the work environment was seen as a possible solution to alleviate attention lapses. Wokoun (1969) carried out three experiments in which he found that a music program, based on an increasing tempo set against employee fatigue times, produced the best alertness results. Conversely, an early study (Kirkpatrick, 1943), entitled Take the Mind Away, showed that music listening had a favorable influence on the productivity of light repetitive mechanical operations. Kirkpatrick suggested that the increase in productivity was a result of the music providing “mind-imagery” to the worker.

The earlier studies tended to focus on the effect of music on carrying out monotonous, simple tasks requiring high vigilance. These types of tasks are still relevant in today’s advanced technological companies and information age. A few studies examined the effect of music listening while employees were engaged in complex tasks (Smith, 1961) with narrative results reported as improved mood and self-perceived productivity.

As the computer industry grew out of the industrial age and was advanced substantially with the internet and e-commerce, different types of demands on employees arose. The information age currently demands its computer information systems developers to acquire new languages in a short amount of time, meet tight deadlines, and do so with creative solutions (Longenecker, 1999; Wastell, 1993). Thus, the effect of music on behavior and productivity in the workplace must be understood within the complexity of the person-environment fit. An examination, as such, should include possible contributing factors such as personality and gender differences, prior work knowledge and experience, and, as well, underlying psychological mechanisms of mood. Moreover, with the advent of brain-imaging studies, cognitive neuroscience may help explain the underlying cognitive mechanisms during music listening and work.

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