Is it art?

News item: When a restaurant plays classical music in the background, diners spend more.

Or so conclude researchers at the University of Leicester, in England. According to a story in the Associated Press, these researchers studied how much diners spend when classical music is playing, when Britney Spears is playing, and when there’s no music at all. Diners spend more when they hear the classics.

I’d have been happier — assuming that the news story is accurate — if the researchers had also studied the effect of jazz, and of upscale pop, like kd lang. But I can’t say that I’m surprised by what they found, or by their explanation of it:

If you hear classical music [said Adrian North, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Leicester], it has got all sorts of connotations of sophistication, affluence and wealth and it makes you feel a bit posh. In a restaurant, this has the effect of making you spend a bit more money.

So once more we learn what classical music stands for in our society. It signifies comfort, affluence, and a kind of undifferentiated sense of sophistication.

As I said, I’m not surprised. Did anyone think classical music would make diners more thoughtful? That with Mozart playing, they’d be more likely to order offbeat dishes, or food that’s subtle and full of surprises?

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