Heavy metal makes you selfish; Beatles turn you into proper citizen, study says

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The Katrina and the Waves song ‘Walking on Sunshine’ was one of a handful of "happy" songs researchers studied.

The Katrina and the Waves song ‘Walking on Sunshine’ was one of a handful of “happy” songs researchers studied.

Music greatly impacts man’s “cooperative spirit” according to a new experiment out of Cornell University. Researchers grouped participants into groups of three, gave them tokens and studied how background music impacted their sharing or hoarding of said tokens.

Upbeat, happy music – including the ‘Happy Days’ theme song, ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison, ‘Yellow Submarine’ by the Beatles and ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Waves – induced participants to contribute more to the group. “Unpleasant” music – specifically heavy metal songs by “less than well-known bands” Attack Attack! and Iwrestledabearonce – had participants protecting their stash.

“What’s great about these findings, other than having a scientific reason to blast tunes at work, is that happy music has the power to make the workplace more cooperative and supportive overall,” Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, said via the Daily Mail.

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Rather than focus on a particular genre, researchers looked at “happy” music, which they defied as “rhythmic music.”

“Given the pervasiveness of music and its careful use by marketers to ‘pipe’ music into places (e.g., supermarkets, elevators, lobbies, exercise gyms, and hair salons) where people might ‘mindlessly’ be influenced (e.g., Wansink, 2006), greater attention should be paid to the potential influence of music upon workplace behavior,” researchers write in the study.

Here’s one of the “unhappy songs” they played: “You Ain’t No Family” by Iwrestledabearonce:

The moral? Next time you’re trying to get your wife to let you buy concert tickets, ditch the ICP and play some ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ in the background.

Photo credit: Jonn Leffmann

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