The playback method has an impact on the level of body motion when people are listening to music with individuals generally moving more when listening through headphones as opposed to speakers

In April 2020 researchers from Norway published the results of their study to assess whether spontaneous movement responses to music are similar if the music is heard through headphones or speakers. The researchers stated that it is already known that music may lead to spontaneous body movement, even when people try to stand still. A total of 35 individuals were involved in the study and listened to six different rhythmic stimuli while standing in a neutral position. Each different stimuli was 45 second long and ranged from a simple pulse to excerpts from electronic dance music. Each individual listened to all the stimuli using both headphones and speakers and an optical motion capture system was used to calculate their quantity of motion. Information on music preferences, listening habits, as well as the experimental sessions was collected via questionnaires. Results showed that the individuals generally moved more when listening through headphones. However, wearing the headphones was also reported as being more tiresome by the individuals. The researchers therefore concluded that the playback method has an impact on the level of body motion observed when people are listening to music.

Zelechowska A et al. Headphones or Speakers? An Exploratory Study of Their Effects on Spontaneous Body Movement to Rhythmic Music. Front Psychol. 2020 Apr 21;11:698.

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