Music to eat by: A systematic investigation of the relative importance of tempo and articulation on eating time

Signe Lund Mathiesen*, Line Ahm Mielby, Derek Victor Byrne, Qian Janice Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Recent research has shown that eating behaviour is not only influenced by factors associated with the individual alone (e.g. psychological/physiological states) but also by the external factors determining the surrounding environment in which one eats (e.g. lighting, colour, temperature, or music). The present research examines the extent to which specific musical properties, namely tempo and articulation, influence eating duration. Two experiments were conducted in which participants tasted and evaluated pieces of chocolate under the influence of different sound conditions. The participants were not aware that they were being timed while eating. For Experiment 1, two versions of the same composition were created with contrasting tempo and articulation. The results showed that eating time was significantly longer in the slow + legato music condition, compared to the fast + staccato music condition. In Experiment 2, we extended the scope of the research question to investigate the relative influence of tempo and articulation, and thus included three additional sound conditions: silence, slow + staccato, and fast + legato music. Overall results revealed a significant main effect of tempo on eating duration as well as an interaction effect between music tempo and articulation. Eating duration was longer with slower tempo, and legato articulation further increased eating time but only when the music had slower tempo. In addition, the presence of music, regardless of style, significantly increased participants’ eating duration compared to eating in silence. Combined, the results from these experiments confirm that music could be employed as a contextual cue to modulate eating speed contributing to healthier eating behaviours such as eating more slowly and consuming less food.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104801
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Articulation
  • Chocolate
  • Eating behaviour
  • Eating time
  • Environmental factors
  • Music
  • Sound
  • Tempo


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