1.5 Minutes on Influence: The Effect of Sound and Charlie Munger

Happy 1,5 Minutes on Influence!

Here is your weekly dose of applying the psychology of influence
to positively impact choices and behaviours.

Looking forward to sharing insights with you!

Warm regards,



Do you like the sound of this?

As I am typing this, I am listening to some techno on my Apple AirPods. I haven’t turned on noise cancellation, though, because I always feel awkward shutting myself off completely in public. Silence can be very uncomfortable.

But coincidentally, as I was listening and browsing, I came across an article about the effect of sound on our brain and how it influences our health, buying decisions and learning capabilities.

With noise pollution becoming a more frequent issue, I was curious if there are behaviours that can help us cope. Here’s what I learned:

Several studies have shown a correlation between noise and health. Overexposure to noise can induce stress and anxiety.

An even more shocking study was conducted on children in noisy school environments, showing that they had lower reading levels and speech problems. The upside is, once noise was reduced, the children’s performance returned to average.

But there’s is more. Did you know that the type of music we hear in shops shape our buying decisions? An experiment at a supermarket showed that playing French or German music influenced customers to buy wines from the respective countries. On days when French music was played, 77 percent of the wine purchased was French, whereas on days when German music played, customers predominantly bought German wine.

So, what’s happening here?

Our brain is wired to pick up sound very easily, but this blocks other cognitive abilities. It can only focus on so much at the same time. So, that is a plea for silence. However, silence can also be uncomfortable.

But there’s an upside.

You can use sounds to foster more positive behaviours.

Listening to classical music, audiobooks, birds chirping, or podcasts can have a positive effect. For instance, listening to classical music can help you absorb new information better.

And if you want to improve your thinking? Silence is golden; it helps you process and focus. So, next time someone asks you a question, make sure to pause for a moment and embrace the silence. It will help you come up with better answers.

I immediately started organizing my Spotify playlists in a “job-to-be-done” manner. I now have playlists called #writingtunes, #cookingtunes, and, truth be told, #esgehtlos techno tunes. My advice is to experiment which sounds work for you and when.

I can just hope you like this item, otherwise I have to skip my techno when writing and that would honestly hurt.

Further reading:

Wish to learn more about how our brain works and how behaviour is shaped: download the brochure of our Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course here.


I want to wrap up this week with a book recommendation: “Poor Charlie’s Almanack.” It compiles the worldly wisdom of the late, brilliant, and utterly witty Charlie Munger. For years, it was out of print but has now been republished and is an absolute gem. Just to share two brilliant quotes from Munger already:

“If you don’t adapt, you’re like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.”

“A great business at a fair price is superior to a fair business at a great price.”

Here you can get your copy: English edition.


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Until next week,

Astrid Groenewegen

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