Beautiful, Sad Music Can Really Make The Blues Go Away: Study
February 20, 2014

Beautiful, Sad Music Can Really Make The Blues Go Away: Study

[ Watch the Video: Can Sad Music Cure The Blues? ]

Rebekah Eliason for – Your Universe Online

Psychologists from the universities of Kent and Limerick have released a new study reporting that if people listen to music they feel is “beautiful but sad” it can actually help them overcome a case of the blues.

In this study, the researchers studied the effect on a participant’s mood when listening to Self-Identified Sad Music (SISM). The researchers were particularly interested in understanding the reasons people chose a specific piece of music when they were sad and the effect of the music.

According to researchers, there were several different motives identified for the selection of a musical piece perceived as sad. Interestingly, they discovered the motivation was often not intended to improve their mood. Researchers found that the only effective strategy for predicting mood enhancement was when music was chosen because a person found it beautiful.

For this study, 220 participants were instructed to remember a negative emotional event they had experienced and what sad music they had listened to following the event. This study was performed by the same team who had previously discovered that people often choose to listen to music they perceive as sad when they are feeling sad.

Dr Annemieke van den Tol, Lecturer in Social Psychology at Kent's School of Psychology, explained that the study discovered that memory triggers of a particular event or time were one of several factors that influence music choice. Additional reasons affecting music choice included perceived aesthetic value and music that communicates a specific message.

Dr. van den Tol said, “We found in our research that people's music choice is linked to the individual's own expectations for listening to music and its effects on them. The results showed that if an individual has intended to achieve mood enhancement through listening to 'sad' music, this was in fact often achieved by first thinking about their situation or being distracted, rather than directly through listening to the music chosen. Indeed, where respondents indicated they had chosen music with the intention of triggering memories, this had a negative impact on creating a better mood. The only selection strategy that was found to directly predict mood enhancement was where the music was perceived by the listener to have high aesthetic value.”

This study was published in the journal Psychology of Music.