Can Listening to Music Make You Type Better? The Effect of Music Style, Vocals and Volume on Typing Performance

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Bramwell-Dicks, Anna
Petrie, Helen
Edwards, Alistair
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Music psychologists have frequently shown that music affects people's behaviour. Applying this concept to work-related computing tasks has the potential to lead to improvements in a person's productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. This paper presents two quantitative experiments exploring whether transcription typing performance is affected when hearing a music accompaniment that includes vocals. The first experiment showed that classifying the typists as either slow or fast ability is important as there were significant interaction effects once this between group factor was included, with the accuracy of fast typists reduced when the music contained vocals. In the second experiment, a Dutch transcription typing task was added to manipulate task difficulty and the volume of playback was included as a between groups independent variable. When typing in Dutch the fast typists' speed was reduced with louder music. When typing in English the volume of music had little effect on typing speed for either the fast or slow typists. The fast typists achieved lower speeds when the loud volume music contained vocals, but with low volume music the inclusion of vocals in the background music did not have a noticeable affect on typing speed. The presence of vocals in the music reduced the accuracy of the text entry across the whole sample. Overall, these experiments show that the presence of vocals in background music reduces typing performance, but that we might be able to exploit instrumental music to improve performance in tasks involving typing with either low or high volume music.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.