‘Moderate’ background noise like music or even chatter is better than silence to spark creativity at work,an Indian origin researcher has said.
And the right level ideal for work is 70 decibels,which is about the same as the noise made by a car driving past,it added.
It’s the Goldilocks Principle said business professor Ravi Mehta who studied the way a brain processes information against different levels of background noise.
Not enough noise and the mind tends to have little or no stimulation. Too loud and the distractions are too great. The middle is just right,said Mehta,of the University of Illinois.
As a guide,70 decibels is about the noise made by one ordinary-sized car going past – a stream of traffic,by comparison,would make around 85 decibels.
A lorrys horn beeping would make 110 decibel but a conversation at a nearby dinner table would be more like 60 decibels.
“A moderate level of noise not only enhances creative problem-solving but also leads to a greater adoption of innovative products in certain settings,” said Professor Mehta.
“It turns out that around 70 decibels is the sweet spot. If you go beyond that,its too loud,and the noise starts to negatively affect creativity.
Its the Goldilocks principle – the middle is just right.
“An increased level of distraction makes you think out-of-the-box,what we call abstract thinking or abstract processing,a hallmark of increased creativity.
“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,” he added.
It means that for those who like to work on their own,for instance,they would be better off in a moderately busy coffee shop than at home in silence.
“This is research that people can relate to almost immediately.
‘Im working in a coffee shop – how does the background volume of the music affect my performance?” he said.
“Instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution,walking outside of ones 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,” he stated.