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The Music Behind Business: Does Tempo Affect Customer Behavior?

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Author: Kimberly Hutmacher

Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Social Science

Objective:

This project seeks to determine if the tempo of the background music we hear in a variety of businesses is important to the environment the business wants to create and if it is key in how their customers move.

Research Questions:

  • Which businesses played more up-tempo music? What kind of environment do you think these businesses were trying to create with this music? How were their customers moving?
  • Which businesses played slower-paced music? What kind of environment do you think these businesses were trying to create with this music? How were their customers moving?
  • Were there any surprises in your research? Please explain.

Materials:

  • Pencil and/or pen
  • Lab notebook
  • Transportation to a variety of businesses that play background music
  • Optional: software tool for measuring tempo
  • Optional: Calculator

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Begin by practicing figuring out the tempo, or beats per minute (bpm), of a variety of songs. You can do this by tapping or clapping out the beat of a song for ten seconds. Then, multiply the number of beats you clapped out by 6 to get the total bpm for the song. Instead of tapping or clapping the beats and calculating it yourself, you could use free music software available at the link in the references to figure this out for you.
  2. Now make a list of all of the different businesses you plan to visit. You should visit and record data for at least 10 businesses. Businesses that you visit might include grocery stores, restaurants, fitness clubs, toy stores, and car showrooms.
  3. Visit each business and calculate and record the bpm of the music playing at each business or record the music and calculate and record the bpm at home. Be sure to pay attention to and note how the customers are moving in each business. Were they moving slowly or quickly? Were they relaxed or more upbeat?
  4. Once you've collected all of your data and made all of your observations, analyze the information in your notebook. Which businesses played more up-tempo music? What kind of environment do you think these businesses were trying to create with this music? How were their customers moving? Which businesses played slower-paced music? What kind of environment do you think these businesses were trying to create with this music? How were their customers moving? Were there any surprises in your research?

Terms/Concepts: tempo; beats per minute (bpm); influence; behavior, background music; how does music tempo affect environment?; how does music tempo affect behavior?

References:

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