The Effects of Music on Atmosphere in a Bank and a Bar

Journal of Applied Social Psychology Adrian C. North David J. Hargreaves Jennifer Mckendrick

This study found a positive correlation between ratings of the listening environment and ratings of the music.



Journal of Applied Social Psychology


This paper reports 2 studies of the effects of music on customers’ perceptions of the atmosphere in a city center bank and a city center bar, respectively. In the first study, classical music, easy-listening music, and no music were played over the course of 3 weeks, and customers were asked to rate the banking hall in which it was played and the music in terms of twenty 10-point adjectival scales. Customers’ responses indicated a positive correlation between ratings of the banking hall and the music on each of the scales. There were also statistically significant differences between the conditions on factor scores derived from a factor analysis of responses to the banking hall. The second study employed a similar methodology over 9 days in a bar, comparing classical, pop, and no music. Customers rated the atmosphere of the bar and the music played there in terms of II adjectival scales. Once again there was a positive correlation between ratings of the listening environment and ratings of the music. Type of music and volume level gave rise to main effects on ratings of the bar in terms of these adjectives. Factor analysis of the ratings gave rise to 3 factors, which were similar to those obtained in the first study, and also to those in an earlier study situated in a university cafeteria. Finally, there were significant Type of Music × Time of Day, and Volume × Time of Day interactions on customers’ estimates of the maximum sum they would be prepared to pay for products on sale in the bar. These results demonstrate that music can have reliable effects on atmosphere and purchase intentions in commercial environments.

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