Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Too much or too little noise turns off consumers, creativity

Date:
May 14, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Ambient background noise turns out to be an important factor affecting creative cognition among consumers, according to new research.

The sound of silence isn't so golden for consumers, and both marketers and advertisers should take note, says new research from a University of Illinois expert in new product development and marketing.

According to published research from Ravi Mehta, a professor of business administration, ambient background noise turns out to be an important factor affecting creative cognition among consumers.

"We found that ambient noise is an important antecedent for creative cognition," Mehta said. "A moderate level of noise not only enhances creative problem-solving but also leads to a greater adoption of innovative products in certain settings."

In the article, Methta and co-authors Rui (Juliet) Zhu, of the University of British Columbia, and Amar Cheema, of the University of Virginia, explore how a moderate-level of ambient noise (about 70 decibels, equivalent to a passenger car traveling on a highway) enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the likelihood of consumers purchasing innovative products. Similarly, the researchers also studied how a high level of noise (85 decibels, equivalent to traffic noise on a major road) hurts creativity by reducing information processing.

"What we found is that there's an inverted-U relationship between noise level and creativity," Mehta said. "It turns out that around 70 decibels is the sweet spot. If you go beyond that, it's too loud, and the noise starts to negatively affect creativity. It's the Goldilocks principle -- the middle is just right."

Using background noise commonly found in consumers' lives, the researchers show that, as noise increases, so does one's level of distraction.

"An increased level of distraction makes you think 'out-of-the-box' -- what we call abstract thinking or abstract processing, which is a hallmark of increased creativity," Mehta said. "But when you start to go beyond that moderate level of noise what happens is that distraction becomes so huge that it really starts affecting the thought process. You really can't process information because the distraction is so pronounced. And that is what inhibits creativity.

"So a moderate level of noise produces just enough distraction to lead to higher creativity, but a very high level of noise induces too much distraction, which actually reduces the amount of processing, thus leading to lower creativity."

The research, which has important practical implications for inducing consumer behavior, should be useful for both advertisers and marketers, who typically strive to increase adoption rates of new and innovative products.

"We studied this in a consumer environment because previous research has only considered white noise or pink noise" -- a variant of white noise, which sounds like the static buzz of an off-air TV station -- "which you don't really find in consumer environments," Mehta said. "So in this case we used everyday multi-talker noise to find out how it affects consumer behavior in a consumption environment. In order to encourage adoption of new and innovative products, marketers might consider equipping their showrooms with a moderate level of ambient noise."

Mehta says the research is not only applicable to consumer research, but also to problem-solving in general.

"This is research that people can relate to almost immediately," he said. "I'm working in a coffee shop -- how does the noise in the background volume of the music affect my performance?

It's also valuable for individuals looking for creative solutions to everyday problems, such as planning a dinner menu based on limited supplies or generating interesting research topics to study.

"Our findings imply that instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking outside of one's comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment like a cafe may actually trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas," Mehta said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu and Amar Cheema. Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition. Journal of Consumer Research, 2012 DOI: 10.1086/665048

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Too much or too little noise turns off consumers, creativity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514134332.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2012, May 14). Too much or too little noise turns off consumers, creativity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514134332.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Too much or too little noise turns off consumers, creativity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514134332.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins