A new study found that although motivational music might make a person — particularly a man — feel like he’s inspired to reach his peak-performance physically, it actually only leads to more risky decisions without any of the assumed benefit.
The research, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that music, although commonly linked to improved mood and motivation, did not, in fact, improve an athlete’s physicality.
In the study, 150 volunteers were given a number of ball-throwing tasks and divided into three groups based on the music they were listening to: choices they made themselves, a playlist made by the experiment or none at all. The object of the test was to see if music had any effect on performance or risky behavioral choices.
To gauge risky behavior, the participants were able to choose how far they wanted to try and successfully complete the throwing tasks — with monetary prizes tied to accuracy and distance.
The scientists found that listening to music didn’t have any negative or positive effect on a person’s overall performance. But, it did increase the self-esteem of participants who were doing well in the tossing trials, and also increased risk-taking decisions, especially in men listening to a playlist of their own making.
“The results suggest that psychological processes linked to motivation and emotion play an important role for understanding the functions and effects of music in sports and exercise,” co-author of the study Dr. Dr. Paul Elvers wrote in the study. “The gender differences in risk-taking behavior that we found in our study align with what previous studies have documented.”