Influence of music on driver psychology and safety-relevant behaviours: a multi-study inductive content analysis

Costas I. Karageorghis, William Payre, Luke W. Howard, Garry Kuan, Elias Mouchlianitis, Nick Reed, Andrew M. Parkes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    141 Downloads (Pure)


    Underpinned by pragmatism and symbolic interactionism, an inductive content analysis was conducted to assess driving experiences under a variety of music conditions. Many quantitative studies have addressed the effects of music on drivers, but there has been a conspicuous dearth of qualitative research to provide a more nuanced understanding of music-related phenomena. Data collection took place over three simulated driving studies, each with different tasks/participants (Study 1–n = 34, Study 2–n = 46, and Study 3–n = 27). The inductive content analysis was conducted by two members of the research team and a peer debriefing was conducted by a third. Findings show that music can have a range of affective, behavioural and cognitive effects (both positive and negative), that are moderated by the driving environment (i.e. urban vs. highway) and aspects of the musical stimulus (i.e. inclusion/non-inclusion of lyrics, loudness and tempo). Participants were mindful of the implications of in-vehicle music vis-à-vis the safety–performance–pleasure trade-off. The analysis suggested a perceived beneficial effect of music and consequent contribution to driving style/safety-related performance. Younger drivers’ apparent reliance on music as a means by which to regulate their emotion highlights an education need in terms of optimising selections. Supplemental data for this article is available online at

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2009933
    Pages (from-to)643-662
    Number of pages20
    JournalTheoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science
    Issue number6
    Early online date13 Dec 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Bibliographical note

    © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


    This study was funded by a UKRI Economic and Social Research Council grant awarded to the first and last authors (ES/R005559/1). The study was also supported by a research grant from the Direct Line Group (UK)


    • Distraction
    • emotion
    • pragmatism
    • qualitative
    • symbolic interactionism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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