Q: Can I use music to gain an edge on a first date?
A: Yep. There’s evidence that background music in real life works the same way as it does in the movies. Having music may even make people’s romantic feelings stronger on a first date.
- In a study published in the journal Psychology of Music in 2015, some Japanese researchers examined whether having background music on during a first date conversation enhanced “the mood.”
- Countless movies and TV shows use music to enhance to feelings of a scene, including love scenes and romantic encounters.
- Is there any truth to this in real life?
- We already know that music in elevators, restaurants, and bars can enhance the atmosphere (or at least make them bearable).
- This experiment used parties called gokon that have become common in Japan.
- At these parties, there is matchmaking, blind-dating, and speed dating to help singles meet each other.
- The researchers used these settings to test whether background music influenced the conversations between people getting to know each other.
- The researchers chose five musical pieces to use as background music for the experiment:
- “TSUNAMI” by Southern All Stars (Pop Rock)
- Violin Sonata No. 5 ‘Spring’ by Beethoven (Classical)
- Serenade ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’ by Mozart (Classical)
- ‘If We Ever Meet Again’ by Timbaland (Rap)
- ‘Heavy Rotation’ by AKB48 (Pop)
- Then, the researchers recruited 32 young students with an average age of 20.
- The groups were split up into groups of 2 males and 2 females.
- The researchers then put the participants in rooms with each other and just told them to have conversations and get to know one another.
- Each participant rated the opposite-sex people in their group before and after having a conversation.
- Some of the rooms had background music, some didn’t.
- After the first half of the experiment, the groups were switched up and each person was put with a new combination of people at a different table.
- Each participant was asked to rate the opposite-sex people at their table on the following characteristics:
Passive or Active?
Inaccessible or Accessible?
Unsociable or Sociable?
Careless or Careful?
Unpleasant or Pleasant?
Unfriendly or Friendly?
Unassertive or Confident?
Short-tempered or Patient?
Hard to Like or Likeable?
Would Not Like to Date or Would like to date?
- Did the music affect how the conversations went?
- Overall, the more people got to know each other, the more they liked each other.
- However, in the music conditions, the ratings were higher overall.
- It didn’t seem to matter what kind of music it was. All the songs caused equal improvements in ratings.
- The two ratings that improved the most with music were:
- Would like to date
- These results are straightforward. Having background music enhanced the “dating” encounters and caused the participants to like each other more and want to date each other more.
- What music played didn’t seem to matter. It could be pop, rock, rap, or classical, and it all tended to enhance the attraction of the participants the same way.
- Previous research may explain why this effect takes place. When men and women are placed in situations together that are exciting (and cause increased heartbeat, blood pressure, etc.), these feelings often are interpreted by participants as more romantic.
- Thus, having some “mood music” around when meeting potential dates for the first time will probably help you get to know them and for you to like each other more!
Shigeno, S. (2015). Effects of background music on young Japanese adults’ impressions of opposite-sex conversation partners. Psychology of Music, 43(6), 898-908. Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0305735614561816?rss=1