Beethoven Busting Crime? It’s Music to My Ears

Articles
July 31, 2009

Beethoven Busting Crime? It’s Music to My Ears

We’ve all heard the familiar tune of background music and how certain musical selections played in grocery stores and markets positively impact sales, customer loyalty, time spent shopping, and even attract more shoppers to different sections of a store.

We’ve all heard the familiar tune of background music and how certain musical selections played in grocery stores and markets positively impact sales, customer loyalty, time spent shopping, and even attract more shoppers to different sections of a store. But have you ever heard of music used in the same setting as a deterrent… to drive people away and prevent crime and loitering? And we’re not talking head banging heavy metal or records touting the “parental advisory, explicit content” stamp that’s sending people running. We’re talking classical music; a genre considered by many to be the epitome of musical genius and intellect (maybe this is why it deters the masses?).   

Music considered pleasant to the listener is known by neurologists to produce dopamine in the brain; a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of enjoyment and pleasure. Companies like Muzak, have studied music’s mood-altering effects and have perfected the “DJ-ing science” of selecting different songs to be played at certain times of the day, influencing bottom line benefits for retailers. Apparently the reverse psychology and neuro-effect is also true. When people hear music they dislike or find unfamiliar, the brain suppresses the production of dopamine, and the pleasant feelings flee. Most people tend to avoid or spend as little time as possible in situations of this nature; a perfect explanation for the logic behind this musical phenomenon. 

For years, classical, country, and opera music have been used in public spaces such as subways, busses, and other transportation systems globally to deter crime and prevent loitering. Some find it pleasant, but most “trouble makers” don’t choose to hang around these spaces for longer than their journey requires. 

The crime deterring strategy has been extended from its most popular use in transportation settings and is currently being used outside malls and markets in the parking lots. The results? A Rainier Valley grocery store, Saar’s Market Place, seems to be experiencing various benefits from the speakers blaring classical music in their parking lot.  Patrick Senn, the store director at the Saar’s Market Place has seen a decrease in loiterers and vandals and also reports that he hasn’t had to call the police to the lot as frequently as before he adopted this practice. 

“In the past, crowds of up to 25 people would hang out in the lot, which became the site of drug dealing, fights and police responses.”

This is certainly great news for businesses struggling with loiters and vandalism and should be incorporated into the environmental design of any new stores threatened by the bad for business inconveniences that crime can have.
 

Click here to view the original article and other quotations from Partick Senn.