How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
What's the point of music? It's something that I've worried about for ages, so a recent radio programme on the subject held me spellbound.
Psychologist Steven Pinker sees little value for evolution in it, although the venerable Charles Darwin, who defined the original evolutionary lens, considered it to be important, along with its close partner dance. The ideas is that it is valuable in mating displays where the male effectively showing his ability to understand and use complex patterns.
An interesting fact about music is that we can hear a tune in a different key and different timing and yet still recognise it. We are, above all, pattern experts.
One of the things we know is that learning to play an instrument increases cognitive ability across a range of other subjects. Doing music, it seems, reaches the parts of the brain that other activities do not reach.
On a related note, another recent radio programme pointed out that it takes 10,000 hrs of practice to reach true expertise, and even Mozart only achieved his early peak through an extremely focused childhood.
So why music, indeed? Whatever the evolutionary cause, the bottom line for most of us is that it makes us feel good. And in changing minds, good feelings are jolly handy things to be able to elicit. Which is why careful use of background music ('atmospherics') is an ongoing tool for many persuaders.
Many might say that songbirds introduced us to music. However if any
researcher manages to precisely translate the "lyrics" birds use the practice
may not always be so social.
A case in point, in relation to how music is used as background as a
persuasive tool, is in the retail environment. Specifically, in the preteen
clothing market. Walk into an Abercrombie and Fitch store in any Market and the
music is deafeningly loud, and the beat, fever pitch. The expectation is that
your spending rhythm will match it. I find these environments overwhelming both
in volume and urgency.
Smell, the strongest sense connected to memory, is used often in environments, where the memories triggered influence decision making. Vanilla and Cinnamon, for instance, are often suggested in the home real estate market, as they enhance feelings of homeyness , and memories of comfort that baked goods often provoke. suggesting, of course that you will experience those feelings of comfort residing in this particular home.
-- Gloria I