Photo: matt northam (Flickr)
A group of scientists wanted to figure out how music affected performance, so they put together a study where men and women played a board game, while listening to either a classical music selection, the Andante movement from the Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart, or a rock song: “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, or the typical sounds of an operating room.
Air Guitar, Air Piano, Or Air Scalpel?
It feels very strange to compare those two musical choices, let alone music and operating room sounds, but to give you more context, the board game the people were playing was Operation.
So, the three different options were present because they were studying to see whether these three selections would add to the volunteer’s stress level or make it easier for them to focus on the delicate task they were attempting to perform.
Women weren’t affected either way, but it turned out men made around thirty‑six mistakes while listening to AC/DC, compared to around twenty‑eight mistakes while Mozart or the sounds of an operating room played. Of course, this was just a board game of an operation, but many surgeons report playing music while operating.
One interesting thing is that there were some people who played the game better when a song was playing. The people who were beneficially affected by Mozart were those who already had an appreciation for the song that was played during their experiment.
Sources And Further Listening:
- Daisy Fancourt, Thomas MW Burton, Aaron Williamon. The razor’s edge: Australian rock music impairs men’s performance when pretending to be a surgeon. The Medical Journal of Australia, 2016; 205 (11): 515 DOI: 10.5694/mja16.01045
- Imperial College London. “Men should avoid rock music when playing board games, say scientists.” ScienceDaily. (accessed May 4, 2017)
- Andante from Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart
- “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC