No surprise at all.
Public Release: 1-Dec-2016
Study finds hearing 'meaningful' sounds decreases performance on cognitive tasks
Scientists also examined the subjective level of annoyance in meaningless sounds
Acoustical Society of America
Open office plans are becoming increasingly common in the workplace -- offering a way to optimize available space and encourage dialogue, interaction and collaboration among employees. However, a new study suggests that productive work-related conversations might actually decrease the performance of other employees within earshot -- more so than other random, meaningless noises.
The study revealed that more meaningful noises, such as music and conversation, had a stronger effect on levels of subjective annoyance than meaningless noises -- and led to a greater decline in performance on cognitive tasks involving memory or arithmetic tests