Does background noise make consumers buy more innovative products?

Jun 19, 2012

Moderate background noise enhances creativity and makes consumers more likely to buy new and innovative products, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"A moderate level of noise enhances creativity compared to both low and high levels of noise," write authors Ravi Mehta (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Ryu (Juliet) Zhu (University of British Columbia), and Amar Cheema (University of Virginia). "Moderate induces distraction which encourages individuals to think at a higher, abstract level, and consequently exhibit higher creativity."

The authors created a noise environment similar to that of a roadside diner or a noisy mall and tested people's creativity at different levels of background noise. When asked to come up with ideas for a new type of mattress or list uncommon uses for a common object, were most creative when the background noise was moderate compared to lower or higher noise conditions.

"For individuals looking for creative solutions to daily problems, instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking out of one's and getting into a relatively (such as a café) may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas," write the authors.

The authors also found that consumers were more likely to choose an innovative product over a traditional one when there was a moderate level of background noise. For example, consumers were much more likely to choose a pair of running shoes with new and innovative features over a standard pair at this optimal level of background noise.

"A moderate level of noise not only enhances creativity but also leads to greater adoption of innovative products. In order to encourage adoption of new and innovative products, companies might consider equipping their showrooms with a moderate level of ambient noise," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Local education politics 'far from dead'

More information: 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.

Related Stories

Acoustic noise contains valuable geophysical information

Dec 07, 2006

The proper processing of acoustic noise can provide a wealth of information. Geophysicists for example have used seismic background noise measurements to reconstruct the crustal structure under Southern California. The advantage ...

Noise research to combat 'wind turbine syndrome'

Jun 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Adelaide acoustics researchers are investigating the causes of wind turbine noise with the aim of making them quieter and solving 'wind turbine syndrome'.

Study shows background noise affects test scores

Nov 02, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- A new study presented at the 162nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America shows that students testing scores are negatively affected by background noise, but not the noise you would expect. The ba ...

Recommended for you

Local education politics 'far from dead'

17 hours ago

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

17 hours ago

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

Why aren't consumers buying remanufactured products?

20 hours ago

Firms looking to increase market share of remanufactured consumer products will have to overcome a big barrier to do so, according to a recent study from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Findings from faculty members ...

Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall

20 hours ago

People learn better and recall more when given the impression that they will soon have to teach newly acquired material to someone else, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Understanding the economics of human trafficking

Jul 28, 2014

Although Europe is one of the strictest regions in the world when it comes to guaranteeing the respect of human rights, the number of people trafficked to or within the EU still amounts to several hundred ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2012
This is exceptionally useful research that will allow Retailers to improve the purchasing experience for themselves by increasing the prices they can charge consumers.

It is yet another way that Corporations can dupe the consumer.

Well done.
Terriva
3 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2012
The consumers are still allowed to read it too and to wear the protective headphones with their own background noise.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2012
They are far too busy being slaves to their corporate masters to be able to spend the hours at the public library to find what psychological and biochemical methods their masters are using to keep them slaves.

"The consumers are still allowed to read it too" - Terriva
Yogaman
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2012
How many dB is "moderate"?