We examined the interactive effects of task load and music tempo on cognition, affect, cardiac response and safety-relevant behaviour during simulated driving. Using a counterbalanced, within-subjects design, participants ( = 46) were exposed to fast-, slow- and no-music conditions at high and low loads in a high-grade simulator. Task load had the most salient effect across a broad swath of variables. For core affect, the Load × Music Condition interaction showed that, under high load, affective arousal scores were higher in the fast-tempo condition vs. slow. A main effect of tempo emerged for the HRV index of SDNN, with fast-tempo music eliciting lower scores than both slow- and no-music conditions. Behavioural data showed a main effect of tempo for risk ratings with fast-tempo music eliciting the highest scores for a traffic-light trigger. Our findings indicate that drivers in high-load, urban environments should exercise caution in their use of fast-tempo music.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funding Information: 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).
- cognitive load
- road safety