Music is truly a powerful tool - even when it comes down to seemingly mundane matters.
Without music; movies would lose some of their appeals; being placed on hold via telephone would be little more frustrating, and our commute back and forth to work would be much more redundant.
No one can deny the powerful effect music has on an individual.
Whether this effect, be positive or negative, often depends on the type of music listened to.
This has especially been seen in the use of music therapy for babies in the NICU...just to name a few.
Most restaurants research this pretty well.
If you'll notice, most fast food chains now employ satellite radio, usually tuned to a station tailored to that restaurant. Subway has "Subway Radio", Chipotle has the same station tuned in at all their stores, etc.
They do this so they can control the guests’ experience.
People are paid big money to research music's effect on customers. They want the customer in and out of the restaurant as quickly as possible.
This creates higher revenue for the store. You'll notice that in fast food shops, the music always has a moderate tempo, upbeat, inoffensive pop music.
This is to keep you propelled enough to eat quickly and leave, but not so attention-grabbing as to cause you to stop and listen.
The other way music is used is more of a "branding" issue.
I've noticed this most in Chipotle. They play a certain "type" of music, in the hopes that you'll associate that music with their restaurant.
It’s part of their branding. If they play music you only ever hear in their store, the next time you hear it, it will remind you of eating there.
Once you start to pay attention, the psychological games that corporations play with your mind are astonishing.
Listening to music while eating is related to increases in people's food intake and meal duration.
The Tufts University Diet & Nutrition Letter, reported on a study that researchers were conducting on the effect background music had on people's eating habits.
In one study conducted, the researchers counted the bites of food individuals took at meals while listening to various types of music. The result?
The research showed, that where there was an absence of background music, the participants "ate at an average rate of 3.9 bites per minute," with about a third of the participants requesting more food after clearing their plates.
On the other hand, at the presence of "spirited tunes," the diners "sped up to an average of 5.1 bites per minute!"
Not surprising, however, when "calming flute instrumentals" were played, the eating pace of the participants slowed "to 3.2 bites per minute - and the bites became smaller."
That might not seem to be a huge difference between the case study where background music was absent (3.9 bites per minute) - however, these latter participants refrained from requesting second helpings; most left food on their plates; felt full; claimed that the food tasted better; and had "fewer digestive complaints.
Since it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal the brain that it's full, eating slowly will help you to eat to satisfaction - without overdoing it.
With this vital piece of information then, it leads one to believe that with the use of calming background instrumental music, one can slow their food consumption, "retraining" both the stomach and the brain to take in less food which could potentially lead to weight lost.
The relationship of listening to music with eating in a natural environment was assessed in 78 college students.
Recorded and studied were their food intake along with environmental factors such as meal duration, music, including speed and volume, location, number of people present and the time of day in a detailed diet diary for 7 consecutive days.
The data show that the presence of music is associated with higher food intake.
Within-subject comparisons revealed higher food and fluid intake and longer meal duration while listening to music but no significant differences in music speed or volume.
The likelihood of listening to music appeared to be associated with the environmental variables of the number of people present and the time of day. The presence of music appears to be one of a set of environmental factors that influences food and fluid intake in the natural world.
Another study completed by the Journal of Culinary Science & Technology (2010) revealed that food tasted nicest when served with quiet classical music and a hint of background ‘chatter’. This was found to only work at certain volumes (precisely: 62-67 decibels) and outside of that range – the diners enjoyed the taste of the food less!
The most remarkable finding was the dramatic effect that silence had – it actually took away the enjoyment of eating! In a music-less environment, the sound monitors recorded only the quiet clink of cutlery – but this was experienced by all the volunteers as very noisy!
It seems that in the absence of at least some ambient sound, the restaurant setting became a very uncomfortable place to be.
Resources: Livestrong.com, soundFeelings.com, self.com