This new study on background music in restaurants shows it can make food taste 60% better

Background music in restaurants can make food taste better, a new study shows. And unwanted background noise makes the food taste worse.

Background music in restaurants can make food taste better, according to a new study published in the journal Applied Acoustics.

And unwanted background noise makes the food taste worse.

The study’s lead author Mahmoud Alamir said this research proves that high noise levels can play a major part in a dining experience.

Background music in restaurants is a win-win

“Our study not only shows that relaxing music at low noise levels increases food enjoyment, but indicates that even ‘normal’ background noise levels in restaurants can be unpleasant to diners,” said Alamir, of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.

“We do not always recognize the cumulative effect of noise on our stress or annoyance levels,” he said, “but we see how every one of us has a sensitivity to noise in different ways.”

Volume matters, and noise can spoil a meal

The study found that relaxing music played at 30 decibels increased the liking of food by 60%.

But when that same music was played at a louder 40 decibels, the increase was only 38%.

And restaurant noise and road traffic noise decreased the liking of food at all volume levels.

The study also considered factors such as age, gender, and noise sensitivity to background noise.

The effect of undesirable background noise was stronger in people who say they are more sensitive to noise, as well as in older people and females.

Valuable information for noise management in dining areas

Co-author Kristy Hansen said the results highlight the importance of noise management strategies that restaurants can use to provide better dining experiences.

“This could include more practical acoustic design of dining areas to suit different groups of people,” she said.

“Quiet dining areas should be considered for older and noise-sensitive people.”

Study details

Study: “The effect of type and level of background noise on food liking: A laboratory non-focused listening test”
Authors: M.A. Alamir and K.L. Hansen
Published in: Applied Acoustics 
Publication date: August 26, 2020
Photo: by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

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Douglas Heingartner

Douglas Heingartner, the editor of PsychNewsDaily, is a journalist based in Amsterdam. He has written about science, technology, and more for publications including The New York Times, The Economist, Wired, the BBC, The Washington Post, New Scientist, The Associated Press, IEEE Spectrum, Quartz, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Frieze, and others. His Google Scholar profile is here, his LinkedIn profile is here, and his Muck Rack profile is here.