NeuroscienceSocial psychology

New study shows background music makes food taste better

background music restaurant

Background music 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 versus background noise

“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 recognise the cumulative effect of noise to our stress or annoyance levels,” he said, “but we see how every one of us has sensitivity to noise in different ways.”

Volume matters

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: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
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apacoust.2020.107600
Photo: by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

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