Psychological Study (Wilson, 2003)

“The Effect of Music on Perceived Atmosphere and Purchase Intentions In a Restaurant”

By: Stephanie Wilson, 2003

This study was a very helpful case that helps demonstrate the heavy impact of seemingly trivial background music. Here are some facts and figures to visually demonstrate the effect of music on perceived atmosphere and purchase intentions in a restaurant setting. The study consisted of 300 subjects, where 50 were placed in to each category of musical genre played in the same restaurant, Out of Africa.

The four musical styles played during the service included classical, popular, easy listening and jazz, and no music. The subjects listened to their designated genre for several hours during a restaurant service. After 30 minutes in to the service, the subjects were asked to fill out a questionnaire to describe what they thought of the atmosphere of the restaurant. They had 20 adjectives, and rated each adjective on a 0 (‘this restaurant does not exhibit this quality’) – 10 (‘this restaurant absolutely exhibits this quality’) scale. The questionnaire also asked the subjects to rate the quality of food and service in the restaurant, if they were aware of the music being played (0 = ‘not aware’ to 5 = ‘extremely aware’), and whether they thought the music being played was appropriate for the restaurant.

After the dinner service, the subjects (except those who were in the no music category) were asked to fill out the survey of 20 adjectives on the 0-10 scale in regards to the music being played. Here are the results of the subjects’ perceptions of the restaurant environment, background music, and purchase tendencies after the study:

TABLE 1: Results of the effects of music on the perceived characteristics of Out of Africa

TABLE 2: Responses to the environment of Out of Africa

TABLE 3: The differences in perception of atmosphere at Out of Africa between the two scores

TABLE 4: Frequency of subjects remaining in the restaurant given a certain time

TABLE 5: Amount of beverages purchased based on genre of music

Graph of the level of subject's awareness of the background music being played
These facts and figures give a valid insight on how patrons perceive music in the restaurant and how they are effected psychologically. The study shows that upbeat music, much like my restaurants’ use of 1940’s Big Bang music, not only kept diners in the restaurant longer, but made them spend more money. This also defends the study that if a consumer is comfortable in his/her setting (in which music clearly is a big factor), they stay longer and spend more money on dessert or alcoholic beverages.

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