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Listening to Music Won't Improve Concentration

And, as if any more proof were needed, researchers Campbell & Hawley studied academics working in a library and concluded that working in silence does indeed mean that you learn more. Granted it wasn’t the most exciting of research studies with the only distractions being the occasional dull thud of a book being stamped and a librarian going ‘shush’ from time to time.

The conclusion? Well, it seems that no matter however much your kids or colleagues at work insists it helps, listening to music or working with the TV on doesn’t increase concentration. In fact, it actually reduces performance levels. Even Mozart’s most tuneful ditties won’t improve your concentration levels, even though they do help to calm you down at the end of a busy day.

Of course there are exceptions. My gardener listens to his iPod all the time. So do the guys who do the decorating. The bricklayers working on next door’s extension put the radio on at the start of the day and only turn it off when they go home. Does it work for them? Well, actually, yes. According to research by Etaugh & Ptasnik, people whose work doesn’t stretch them mentally will often perform better when listening to background music. But then again they haven’t seen the state of my hedges.

It’s called work for a reason. Turn off the radio and take that iPod out unless you are carrying out a menial task.


Philip Hesketh is a professional speaker on the psychology of persuasion. His book ‘How To Be More Persuasive and Influential’ is an Amazon best seller.