Does Music Influence Our Behavior?

Music can affect how we behave, often without us noticing. A while ago it was even in the news that certain types of music, such as hardhouse and heavy metal, would cause criminal behavior. This later turned out to be a misunderstanding : the researchers discovered that young people with a certain taste in music are on average slightly more likely to engage in criminal activities, but that does not mean that music is the cause of that criminal behaviour.

Still, to some degree, music influences what we do. Marketing agencies are making a huge study of how music can influence the purchasing behavior of consumers. If a store plays background music that matches the image of the business, customers are more likely to buy something. And also in catering establishments, the music is often carefully selected, everything to ensure that the consumer feels at ease. 

But also to achieve the opposite effect – scaring people away – music can be very useful. Around some schools and train stations, annoying music should cause loiterers to seek refuge elsewhere.

Does Music Make You Smarter?

Music lessons are good for brain development, we know from research. In children who learn to play a musical instrument, the connection between the left and right hemispheres is strengthened. This allows the hemispheres of the brain to communicate better with each other during their development, which is important, for example, for coordinating behavior and emotions.

Moreover, young people who play a musical instrument have stronger connections between different language areas in the brain. This allows them to better distinguish the subtle sound differences of spoken language from each other. Making music therefore stimulates language skills . 

The positive effects of making music do not only apply to children and young people, adults also benefit greatly from making music. For example, people who regularly play an instrument are more creative than others. And who takes music lessons at a later age trains his prefrontal cortex and keeps his memory and problem-solving ability up to date. 

You also sometimes hear that listening to classical music strengthens your cognitive functions. It would even give you a higher IQ, a study from 1993 suggests. But, unfortunately for all enthusiasts: after further research, it appears that the so-called Mozart effect does not exist after all . If you want to become smarter, it is therefore better to make music yourself instead of listening to it.

Music therapy can also offer a solution for people with, for example, autism, war trauma or an intellectual disability. This form of therapy is sometimes still laughed at, but many people benefit from it. Music can often find a way around the brain, explains Jaschke. “If the connection between brain areas A and B is no longer so good, the music still manages to find a way somewhere.” 

Dimo has autism and loves music. Music therapy helps him make better contact. 

This shortcut in the brain also works for many people with memory problems, such as dementia. Where they sometimes do not or hardly succeed in talking, singing is often still effortless. Singer Maartje de Lint therefore sings together with people with dementia and their loved ones or carers.

Concert

Still, to some degree, music influences what we do. Marketing agencies are making a huge study of how music can influence the purchasing behavior of consumers. If a store plays background music that matches the image of the business, customers are more likely to buy something. And also in catering establishments, the music is often carefully selected, everything to ensure that the consumer feels at ease. 

But also to achieve the opposite effect – scaring people away – music can be very useful. Around some schools and train stations, annoying music should cause loiterers to seek refuge elsewhere.