Here’s How the Music in Restaurants Affects What You Eat

If you're on a diet, you might want to stick with jazz.

Here’s How the Music in Restaurants Affects What You Eat

If you're on a diet, you might want to stick with jazz.

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It’s long been known that music has a deep, subconscious affect on our purchasing decisions. Previous studies have found that when supermarkets play French music, customers are more likely to choose French wine, whereas when they play German music, customers are more apt to buy German wine—all without realizing that their preference is being influenced by the sounds coming out of the speakers.

But what effect does music, and its magnitude, have on our orders in restaurants and other venues?

This was what Dipayan Biswas, a marketing professor at the University of South Florida, sought to find out in a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences.

To conduct the study, Biswas and his colleagues played several genres of music at different decibels at a cafe in Stockholm over the course of several days. What they discovered was that when the music was louder, customers were 20 percent more likely to order something that was unhealthy.

These results make sense when analyzed in the context of how music affects our mood, as volume has been proven to directly impact our heart rate and levels of arousal. When the music in a cafe is ambient, we gravitate toward something sensible and soothing. When it’s loud and fast-paced, we’re more prone to getting caught up in the excitement and choose something forbidden and, for lack of a better word, sexy, like a hamburger and fries. (Perhaps it also explains why you don’t see a whole lot of salads at death metal concerts.)

The study is useful in helping restaurants craft a music selection that is most amenable to their food options, but it’s also a good thing to know as a consumer. Loud music influences more impulsive, bad decisions.So if you’re hoping to get that summer bod, you best stay clear of those loud bars. And for more on how to use science to boost your fitness levels, check out the Secret Benefit of Exercising Outdoors in the Summer.

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