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This article explains some British experience on playing classical music in public places and the effect on behaviour of people.

It seems that the feeling (was it measured?) was that it prevented youths from loitering in public places. But is there an effect on crime rate or violence measurements?

  • If it's true, it would be interesting if there will be a similar effect on traffic accident – Ophir Yoktan Mar 15 '11 at 10:52
  • the people "hanging around no more did", did what exactly? It's well established that playing noises that kids don't like in places you don't want kids to hang around causes them to leave. This is employed with great success in many cities and indeed causes them to disperse. Same with lighting up dark corners to get rid of them there. – jwenting Mar 15 '11 at 13:28
  • @jwenting: Sorry I am not a native English speaker, sometimes I can express things a bit clumsily. If you read the article the intent of my words is I think clearer. – Benoit Mar 15 '11 at 13:36
  • Avoiding places that have a displeasing sound (or smell) is pretty much normal behaviour. And if you are forced to stay in that place anyway, of course you'll get cranky. I don't see any subliminal effect here. P.S.: humorous anecdote: The Gloucestershire airport in England used Tina Turner songs to clear the runways from birds. – Oliver_C Mar 15 '11 at 16:04
  • In such cases, the criminal behavior is often only moved to different places and not reduced. – user unknown Mar 15 '11 at 21:13
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As far as I understand this, the aim of playing classical music is not to affect the behaviour of people through subconscious tricks.

It’s much more direct than that: young people in general dislike classical music and won’t be inclined to linger in public places that play classical music.

As to whether this works, my guess is as good as anyone’s.

  • Is this an observation, or has this been studied? – Ustice Mar 17 '11 at 14:13
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    @Ustice Supposedly there are (see e.g. here: goo.gl/pidti, or here: goo.gl/WQ4rZ) but I don’t know any. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 17 '11 at 14:38
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Playing any music could have an potential impact on a persons mood/behaviour. Although the effects I suspect would be quite subtle in many cases.

However simply playing "classical" or orchestral music wouldn't cut the mustard - you'd have to look at the features of the music itself.

An orchestral piece full of bombast or of a high tempo is likely to have the same effect as a drum heavy metal track.

This paper: David L. Wiesenthal1,*, Dwight A. Hennessy, Brad Totten (2006)The Influence of Music on Driver Stress - found that driver stress could be reduced by allowing drivers to listen to some music of their own choosing.

This paper: Warren Brodsky (2002) The effects of music tempo on simulated driving performance and vehicular control - found that the tempo of music can affect an individuals arousal with faster tempo music (regardless of genre) consistantly being linked with poor driving.

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