A lot of research has been done into the influence of music on the gambler. They are fairly recent investigations. Investigations in supermarkets from the 1950s are much better known. They brought a large number of new insights. And they were gradually applied, tested or investigated in other places. Like in the casino.
At the supermarket surveys, scientists and marketers did not only look at music. They included all kinds of possible influences in the research to measure the influence on our buying behavior. Such as light, location of the product on the shelves, position of the sales posters and offers and more.
Influence of music
In general it was discovered that people are more sensitive to unconscious stimuli when they don't have to make a difficult choice. In other words, if they don't have to think much, people are more receptive to suggestive messages.
After the initial investigations, supermarkets had a long-standing idea about music. With slow, calm music, people spend more time on the shelves and spend (possibly as a result) more money. It was the beginning of the conscious use of muzak and lift music.
The conclusions of the early studies were not later refuted. But more research brought nuance. In the beginning, the choice of music stood on its own. Gradually it became more part of the entire supermarket experience. And instead of music that could distract, for example through a well-known tune, people chose music that plays almost unnoticed in the background.
At the same time, manufacturers of branded products also noticed that the choice of music could reflect the image. This was taken into account in advertising tunes, both on television and radio, in the supermarket and on other occasions.
Kind of music
Gradually, more attention was paid to music in all kinds of situations. For example, how does a motorist react to music. Music proved to have hardly any influence there. Only with exciting music, say Hard Rock-like music, did a motorist seem to increase his speed compared to his predecessor. He will then have to catch up faster. But he will therefore not necessarily drive less safely.
Casinos have also been busy for a long time implementing the insights from the surveys at supermarkets. And to have their own investigations done of course. As we wrote earlier, they looked at light, carpet motif, placement of the devices and the like. But recent investigations were added. For example, was the influence of music on the gambler? Is it different from someone shopping?
Influence of music on the gambler
What is the influence of music on the gambler? Not only casino owners and gambling entrepreneurs asked themselves that question. Scientists also wanted to know. Most of them looked at the question in a neutral way. But some were mainly interested in the negative influence on the gambler. As always, scientists remain cautious in their conclusions. But summarizing many studies, we can reveal that music does have an influence on the gambler.
However, it is not easy to come to a uniform conclusion. Most studies into the influence of music on the gambler have recently been conducted. And they started from different angles. One researcher looked at music and gambling behavior, another at type of music, the chance of addiction to certain music or the increased production of dopamine by music.
Griffiths and Parke
Mark Griffiths, professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham, is one of the first researchers into the influence of music on the gambler. Together with Jonathan Parke he did several studies that were often used as a starting point for further research by others.
In 1990, Griffiths discovered that young people find fruit machines more attractive in an environment with music. When the music is familiar to them, they also feel more familiar with the device. Fifteen years and many investigations later he indicated with an investigation which music can best be played in an arcade hall. And in 2010 he did research into the role that light and music play in gambling behavior.
In that study, gambling behavior was measured when playing roulette online. He used combinations of slow and fast music with red and white light. There appeared to be a connection between music tempo and light color.
There was hardly any influence on the risk of spending more money. However, when the music tempo was increased, the effort was made faster. Light had no influence. The combination of fast music and red light ensured that gambling was speeded up and that something more was used.
Between the first and last research by Griffiths and Parke, many results have come out about the influence of music in general and specifically on the gambler. Charles Areni and David Kim discovered in 1993 that wine sales increase considerably when playing classical music. Heather McElrea and Lionel Standing saw that participants started drinking faster if the music got a faster pace.
But to what extent did these observations in the general or commercial environment apply to the gambling environment? Most of the research in the gambling environment, certainly in the beginning, still came from Griffiths. Often in collaboration with Jonathan Parke. They discovered in 2008 that online gambling is likely to lead to gambling addiction faster. In those days it was thought that the availability of the games 24 hours played a role in this.
A search at online roulette
They were the first to point out that music is also played during online gambling at home. This was a reason for Stephanie Bramley in 2013 to do research into the influence of music on the gambler in online roulette. It also played a role in the fact that Heather Wadle saw in 2011 that gamblers increasingly preferred playing online, rather than in a physical casino.
Bramley and her colleagues looked at both the tempo of the music and the genre in their research. They wanted to determine whether the relationship between the two variables had an influence on the speed of gambling and the height of the bets.
The research team concluded that gamblers spend more money and bet higher on popular music. This is in contrast to classical music. This is probably because popular music is more recognizable and is associated with pleasure. As a result, the gambler may pay less attention to his gambling decisions. It is a result that incidentally was also found by Griffiths and others (eg Simon Dixon in 2007 and Jenny Spenwyn in 2011).
Her research confirmed that pace has no influence on the deployment. Genre also appeared to have no influence on online roulette spending. This is in contrast to the supermarket, where the music genre does play a role in purchasing behavior. An explanation could be that in a supermarket, but also in a restaurant, for example, the environment (ambiance) plays a much larger role.
A lot of research
We can cite many more investigations, but it is too much and, in addition, still too diverse. Therefore an overview below that you can get started with. An interesting study in between, which we would like to point out specifically, is that of Bramley from 2015 (pdf).
She also looked at the use of music by Casino managers. Of course she didn't do that in a laboratory. She conducted interviews with five casino managers in Great Britain. You can, of course, before reading that story, first relax with a game. You can know for yourself what music you play.
Sources and further reading
- Research from Millman in 1982 into background music in supermarket (pdf)
- A more recent study from Yalch in 2000 into music in retail (pdf)
- Bramley research into music tempo and genre in online roulette in 2014 (pdf)
- Interview research of Bramley using music by casino managers (pdf)
- 2013 study by Mentzoni on changing gambling behavior by music type (pdf)
- A recent research report from Mark Griffiths on the psychology of music in the gambling environment (pdf)
- Another Bramley investigation into music in the gambling environment (pdf)
- The aforementioned studies, from Mcelrea about faster drinking with fast music (pdf) and from Areni about higher wine sales with classical music (pdf)
- An overview of the research and publications by Mark Griffiths and the publications by Stephanie Bramley