To celebrate the International Music Day, which was yesterday, October 1st, I would like to talk a bit about how music affects our mood.
Have you ever felt the power of music? If you are given to technologies you probably have on your hand, right now, a smartphone, filled with your favorite songs that you like to play at that exact moment!
Do you listen to your favorite tunes when you are feeling excited or upbeat, or listen to that emotional ballad when you are feeling down or recovering from a breakup? Or classical music when you are feeling anxious?
You probably know first-hand that there are different types of music, for different situations. Each one of us has that special song for a specific situation.
So how do people react to music?
There has been some research that suggests when people are feeling down, they prefer upbeat music to counter their negative feelings.
According to scientists at the University of Missouri, listening to upbeat music can be a natural mood booster. The lead author Yuna Ferguson, mentioned “although pursuing personal happiness may be thought of as a self-centered venture, research suggests that happiness relates to higher probability of socially beneficial behavior, better physical health, higher income and greater relationship satisfaction.”
Just two weeks of listening to more positive music can lead to people successfully improve their moods/emotions, and improve overall happiness.
However, under certain circumstances, consumers in negative moods might choose to have experiences more consistent with their mood (sad music) even when more pleasant alternatives are also available.
To look into this behavior, there was a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, that found that people tend to prefer sad music when they are experiencing a deep interpersonal loss, like the end of a relationship.
The authors of that study suggested that sad music provides a substitute for the lost relationship. They compared it to the preference most people have for an emphatic friend — someone who truly understands what you’re going through.
The music we listen to responds to our current feelings and context.
There is evidence that music is also being used as therapy to help treat depression, together with other treatments. There are over a dozen studies in the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) website that support the benefits of music therapy for people with depression and anxiety. Some of the documented outcomes include:
- Reduced muscle tension
- Increased self-esteem
- Decreased anxiety
- Enhanced interpersonal relationships
- Increased motivation
- Successful and safe emotional release
Do you use music to help you through the tough times?