The Effect of Music on Atmosphere and Purchase Intentions in a Cafeteria1


  • 1

    The authors are grateful to Joanne Bowley, Helen Nicholson, Helen Parker, Juliet Perry, Susan Ryan, Nicola Scofield, Lorraine Sheridan, and Georgina Smith for assistance in data collection and analysis. The cooperation of Leicester University Student's Union and particularly Janet Moriarty of the university's Central Catering Service is also gratefully acknowledged.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Adrian North, Psychology Department, University of Leicester. University Road, Leicester LEI 7RH, England.


This exploratory study investigates the effect of music on the perceived characteristics of a commercial listening environment and on customers' purchase intentions therein. Three musical styles and also no music were played in a student cafeteria over the course of 4 days. Subjects' responses to a questionnaire indicated that different musical styles had different effects on the perceived characteristics of the cafeteria, and that classical music was associated with subjects being prepared to pay the most for food items on sale therein. There was also some indication that classical and pop music might have increased actual sales in the cafeteria, as compared with easy listening and silence. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for both commercial practice and our theoretical understanding of music and consumer behavior.