Music & Mood

From the drumbeats of our ancient ancestors to today’s unlimited streaming services, music is an integral part of the human experience.

Researchers have pondered the possible therapeutic and mood boosting benefits of music for centuries.

Even sad music brings most listeners pleasure and comfort, according to recent research from Durham University in the United Kingdom and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, published in PLOS ONETrusted Source.

Conversely, the study found that for some people, sad music can cause negative feelings of profound grief.

The research involved three surveys of more than 2,400 people in the United Kingdom and Finland, focusing on the emotions and memorable experiences associated with listening to sad songs.

From the drumbeats of our ancient ancestors to today’s unlimited streaming services, music is an integral part of the human experience.

Researchers have pondered the possible therapeutic and mood boosting benefits of music for centuries.

Even sad music brings most listeners pleasure and comfort, according to recent research from Durham University in the United Kingdom and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, published in PLOS ONETrusted Source.

Conversely, the study found that for some people, sad music can cause negative feelings of profound grief.

The research involved three surveys of more than 2,400 people in the United Kingdom and Finland, focusing on the emotions and memorable experiences associated with listening to sad songs.

The majority of experiences reported by participants were positive.

“The results help us to pinpoint the ways people regulate their mood with the help of music, as well as how music rehabilitation and music therapy might tap into these processes of comfort, relief, and enjoyment,” said lead author, Tuomas Eerola, Ph.D., a professor of music cognition at Durham University, in a press release.

He also said the study may help find reasons for both listening to and avoiding sad music.

An earlier study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, 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 empathic friend — someone who truly understands what you’re going through.

Other research has focused on the joy upbeat music can bring.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks.

In the study, participants were instructed to try to improve their mood, but they only succeeded when they listened to the upbeat music of Copland as opposed to the sadder tunes of Stravinsky.

And a happier mood brings benefits beyond feeling good. In a press release, lead study author, Yuna Ferguson, noted that happiness has been linked to better physical health, higher income, and greater relationship satisfaction.

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