Previous attention research has shown music to have negative effects on attention and concentration, especially when it is liked, has lyrics, or is of a higher intensity. Further attention research has shown that performance generally decreases when two tasks are carried out concurrently: the reaction time to a second stimulus is significantly longer when it is presented (very) quickly after the first stimulus. Most research performed on attention and task switching has been focused on the mental mechanisms underlying the process of multitasking, and has yet to have much of a focus on the occupational consequences. In the current study, 60 participants were asked to complete a two-part experiment. The first part being a simple computer simulated task-switching experiment and the second part involving the completion of a list of tasks, constructed to allow for parallel task completion. Results from part 1 indicate a relationship between reaction times of the single task/mixed block task repeat and the task switch. Possible effects of music on these reaction times are inconclusive. Results from part 2 indicate that those who completed more tasks performed more "simultaneous tasks" as well as completed the easy tasks first. Music’s effects were statistically significant, only in certain task situations. Gender effects are noted for task completion rates as well. Music influence may have been mitigated by the fact that many of the tasks did not require a vast amount of attention and cognition.
Young, Ethan and Nolan, Jay
"Effects of Music Genre on Simple and Simulated Task Switching,"
International Social Science Review: Vol. 91
, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.northgeorgia.edu/issr/vol91/iss2/2